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'You have to help the doctors and nurses whatever way you can' - The LOI legend working at Tallaght Hospital

Conor Kenna, a Premier Divison title winner with St Patrick’s Athletic, retired this season and now finds himself playing a part in Tallaght Hospital’s fight against Covid-19.

Former St Patrick's Athletic defender Conor Kenna won now works in Tallaght Hospital.
Former St Patrick's Athletic defender Conor Kenna won now works in Tallaght Hospital.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Updated Mar 24th 2020, 4:31 PM

CONOR KENNA IS not on the frontline.

He is not a doctor or a nurse and doesn’t have any contact at all with patients on emergency wards.

But he is still playing his part.

Kenna’s work – just one of the many small cogs in a hugely important machine – is done in the shadows at Tallaght Hospital as staff there, along with the rest of Ireland, come together to fight the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The former St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers centre back called time on his 16-year League of Ireland career when he hung up his boots at the end of last season with Longford Town in the First Division. 

Kenna, 36 in August, had done his time. Now he was preparing to settle into his new professional life working on the financial information systems that help to keep the hospital ticking over.

Normal family life could resume, too. With his wife, Fiona, also working in Tallaght on the clerical side of the occupational therapy department, they were able to make plans for their two young daughters.

brian-kerr-with-ger-obrien-and-conor-kenna Former St Pat's manager Brian Kerr (left) joined the title celebrations with Conor Kenna and Ger O'Brien in 2013. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A holiday was booked for later this summer.

Trips and concerts that would normally be a no-go in the height of a Premier Division campaign were back on the agenda.

Now, like for everyone else, that is all on hold.

Kenna has been redeployed from an office at the hospital to the warehouse in order to help receive and process the medical equipment and materials to help the hospital cope with the increased pressure.

“What the doctors and nurses are doing is incredible. It’s going to get much tougher for them and it’s a case of everyone having all hands on deck so you can help in whatever way you can,” he tells The42.

No one has ever seen anything like this before. They are the ones putting their own lives at risk to help save people.”

Kenna had spent most of last week working from home as the hospital formulated its plans to utilise its resources most efficiently. By Friday he was informed of what was now required.

Staff have been asked to put a hold on all time off, rosters and rotas are being redrawn and the sole focus of everyone is to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The hospital is going to be overloaded very soon,” Kenna explains. “Over the next number of weeks it’s about everyone chipping in and helping out in any way they can.

“The orders that have been coming in, making sure we have the masks that are needed and everything else, too. Everyone is under pressure because of the bulk of goods needed.

No one would have thought that we would have to go through something as serious as this and it’s so important that the hospital made sure to get ahead of the game as much possible and be prepared. 

“It’s pretty bad. Everyone can see it but I think we’ll see people pulling together to help because everyone’s priority now is doing their part for this.

“Everyone knows the risks now. It’s really serious now. I think everyone will know someone who either has this virus or will need to be tested.

I was getting slaggins off people in my family at first about how this all started to happen in the year after I finished playing.

“We waited so long as a family to be able to book a holiday for when we actually wanted to during the summer, rather than after the season was finished.

“But it’s just one of those things. The holiday is off and everyone is making sacrafices. If missing out on a holiday is all we have to worry about than then I’ll be fine with that.”

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