FORMER Nemo Rangers senior footballer Michael Dorgan is in New York, the epicentre of the US’s outbreak of Covid-19.
Dorgan and his wife, Laura, are based in Queens. Thankfully healthy and still working, as a journalist, he is adjusting to the new normal.
“It’s very surreal and everyone is learning about our new reality.
“New York is the global epicentre of the virus and Queens, where we live, has been the city’s hardest-hit borough, in terms of infection numbers and deaths. We are not really restricted.
“Only essential travel is permitted and exercise is also allowed outside. We haven’t used the subway since the shutdown, but we’ve gone for long runs and walks.
“There is, essentially, no restriction on that type of travel in the city. There has been no increased police presence, nor are the police enforcing social-distance rules.
“Things have just gotten a lot quieter outside."
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has displayed strong leadership during the outbreak, which has impressed Dorgan, who is a keen student of American history.
“They have given people plenty of guidance and a certain amount of reassurance that the government is managing the response effectively. He has also avoided getting bogged down in political wrangling with Trump.”
Both the Dorgans are working from home and he is pleased that his workload is still heavy.
“I would have attended and covered a lot of public community board meetings, but these have been scaled back and some are now on Zoom.
“Laura has has her own fitness app, the Laura Dorgan Fitness App, which has kept her busy.
“She has seen an increase in demand, as gyms are closed. She can design fitness programmes for people without fitness equipment in their homes.
“She also works entirely from home. I work from the sitting room, while she works out in the kitchen,” Dorgan said.
Dorgan is a reporter with The Queens Post.
“We are an online publication, with nine sites in total. The Queens Post site covers all Queens-related news and then we have eight other sites that are more focused on specific Queens neighbourhoods.
“I would write and report across all these sites. I’m enjoying it, although it has been very challenging at times. I’ve been working six days a week since the outbreak began, due to the amount of news coming in.”
Dorgan moved to the US in September 2018 and they had no thoughts of moving home for the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We never once thought about returning home. It was an 18-month battle just to survive here.
“We had so many setbacks, in terms of work and visas, that we were just finally getting on our feet when the virus hit.
“Not even a global pandemic would take us away now. We both have visas, now, for the next three years.
“We really love the place, so I can’t see anything changing. Our family members were ringing and asking should we think about coming home, but it made no sense, as I had work here. It was never an option for us.”
Dorgan also recently launched a podcast, The Long Hall, which features interviews with sports personalities. He has been thrilled with the response to the podcast.
“The reaction was superb. We couldn’t have imagined the publicity it would generate.
“There is an appetite for this type of podcast and the Long Hall Bar, where we record, is a hub of Irish activity.”
The former county-winning midfielder with Nemo, lines out for the Kerry club in New York. He would be in favour of playing GAA games behind closed doors, if only to ensure we return to some semblance of normality in the near future.
“The GAA season here runs, basically, over the summer months, because teams are allowed use 90-day summer sanctions, so even if it does go ahead later in the year, teams will be without these lads,” Dorgan said.
“I think games should go ahead behind closed doors, at a minimum. We are never going to completely rid ourselves of the virus, in the short term, and people need to get back to some normality.
“I think the same goes for home. We need to open up and get back to living. Yes, the virus is serious, but I always feared the effect closing down would have on the economy."
Dorgan, who enjoyed a very successful club career with his beloved Nemo, misses his old team-mates and his club terribly, but he is glad he made the move to New York.
“America was always a dream of ours. We fought tooth and nail to get here and even harder to stay.
“I will always have an aching heart for Nemo, however. I don’t think anything will ever fill that void and, I suppose, it’s a bit like retiring.
“It’s why fellas will always tell you to keep playing as long as you can, as careers are short.
“Then again, life is, too."