Zach Tuohy: Treatment of Conor McKenna was ‘absolutely outrageous’

‘I’d like to give you some names, but it probably wouldn’t be a good career move’

Conor McKenna in action for the Essendon Bombers during the round six  AFL match against  the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 11th. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Conor McKenna in action for the Essendon Bombers during the round six AFL match against the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 11th. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

 

Irish AFL star and former Laois footballer Zach Tuohy has described the Australian official and media treatment of fellow countryman Conor McKenna’s false positive test for Covid-19 as “absolutely outrageous” and “a total farce” – the former Tyrone player initially reported to be positive last month, only three days later be given the all-clear.

For Tuohy, based in the AFL since 2010, the Australian media’s rush to judge McKenna was particularly worrying, after reports suggesting he had deliberately broke quarantine restrictions with his club, Essendon Bombers, by attending an open house viewing and visiting family.

“It was outrageous, absolutely outrageous, a total farce,” said Tuohy, speaking on the Gaelic Players’ Association podcast. “He was guilty by media, he did nothing wrong, as was painted as some kind of idiot who didn’t care about the AFL, and was going to jeopardise the game.

“There are 800 players in the league, however many staff in each of those clubs as well, so you have way over 1,000 people. You can’t keep tabs on them all, it’s only a matter of time before a player returns a positive test, and when it happens, you don’t just get to go the media and call them whatever you want.

Zach Tuohy: ‘He was guilty by media, he did nothing wrong, as was painted as some kind of idiot who didn’t care about the AFL.’ Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Zach Tuohy: ‘He was guilty by media, he did nothing wrong, as was painted as some kind of idiot who didn’t care about the AFL.’ Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

“As it happened, it was clerical error, a breakdown in communications somewhere. To be fair, some media have apologised, but it was handled terribly, absolutely terribly. So much of the media are just vultures, absolute vultures, and they’d rather be first than right. I’d like to give you some names, but it probably wouldn’t be a good career move.”

Tuohy’s Geelong team, normally based in Victoria, are currently playing the AFL games based out of Perth, where the recent spike in Covid-19 isn’t as severe. Tuohy also questioned the need to create the extra anxiety around Covid-19 by highlighting McKenna’s initial plight.

“They really, really jumped the gun, and it was absolutely disgraceful the way he was treated. Someone is going to get it, it’s unavoidable, especially given there’s a spike in some states. But of course it’s just breeding anxiety, when there’s a lot of anxiety around.”

McKenna was still given a one-week suspension from the AFL for breaching return to play protocols, but was free to play on the opening weekend after being given permission to leave quarantine early. When subsequent tests came back negative, it appeared that McKenna’s initial results may have provided a false positive.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.