Former Cork keeper Paddy O'Shea on battling back from Covid-19

Former Cork keeper Paddy O'Shea on battling back from Covid-19
Former Cork football goalkeeper and current ladies football coach Paddy O'Shea has now recovered from Covid-19.

CORK ladies football coach Paddy O’Shea is back to full health having recovered from contracting the Covid-19 virus.

The self-employed electrical contractor was laid low with the virus for a lengthy period. 

Covid-19 certainly took its toll on the former Seandún and Cork senior shot-stopper who struggled to move from the couch to his bed whilst dealing with a chronic lack of sleep and high temperatures.

“I tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and was out of work for a while,” the St Vincent's club man told the Echo.

St Vincent's goalkeeper Paddy O'Shea. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Vincent's goalkeeper Paddy O'Shea. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Thankfully, I’m grand now and have made a full recovery. It was late March when my first symptoms started to show. That was a good while ago, yet for about an eight-day period, it beat me up really badly I can tell you. Physically, I couldn’t do a thing.

“As time went on, I managed to move from the couch to the bed and back again. Honestly, that was all I was capable of doing and it took a huge effort to manage that short distance. 

"I was tested after 10 days and had to wait three weeks for the results. They were positive when they eventually came back but by then, I was over it and healthy once again.

“It was a case of staying at home throughout the ordeal but I stayed in contact with a friend of mine who is a doctor and got good advice from him. He told me to immediately isolate for two weeks when I initially rang him to tell him about my symptoms. 

"I was to follow all the HSE advice, which I did, to the letter of the law. Gradually and very slowly, I began to feel better but I was advised to stay in the house for an additional five days until I was absolutely symptom free.” 

Thankfully, Paddy’s wife, Aishling, tested negative but had to witness her husband deal with some upsetting symptoms before making a full recovery. Aishling not having to go through the same experience was one of the few positives O’Shea took from his ordeal.

Picture: Mike English
Picture: Mike English

This year had begun well for the former Cork senior goalkeeper. Ephie Fitzgerald appointed O’Shea as head coach of the Cork senior squad having made such a positive impact in the inter-county setup’s goalkeeping role over three previous seasons. 

A global pandemic bringing a complete cessation to all sporting activities came at the worst possible time for Cork who looked odds-on to qualify for another LIDL National League Division 1 final.

“Donegal was the last game Cork completed before everything was shut down,” O’Shea said.

“It was especially disappointing for me because it was my first full year being head coach and I was really enjoying it. In our eyes, we were doing well and things were cooking very nicely. The mood in the camp was very good all year and that’s important.

“Granted, we lost to Donegal but our training session the following Wednesday evening was one of the best we had all year. That was fantastic from my point of view, to see the girls react in such a positive and determined manner.

“They considered it a bad loss to Donegal but I told them it is always a tough ask to travel that long distance up north and we had changed the team around a good bit as well. We went up by bus and played the game in awful weather conditions too.

“They were still very upset but, as a coach, I wasn’t because it was not Cork’s goal to win every single match we played this year. Ideally, you strive for that but the reality is every team suffers setbacks along the way. 

"Our goal was to improve on certain factors during the league and we were achieving that with each passing fixture. It was made clear to the squad that although we should be disappointed with the result, you have to put it behind you and understand you always learn more from a loss than a win.” 

An abrupt end to the season was not what O’Shea wanted. Yet, the importance of making a full recovery from Covid-19 means the Cork coach has a lot to be thankful for.

O’Shea is adamant no sporting events should be sanctioned for the remainder of the year or beyond until it is safe to do so.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought but have decided to stop guessing about if and when we will see action again this year.

“It is very simple. No championship or competition should go ahead until there is 0% risk factor involved. There is no way the GAA or LGFA can guarantee that right now or in the near future. So, it is too much of a risk.

“There are elderly people dying in hospitals here in Cork and their families cannot say goodbye to them or be at their graveside when they are being buried. If not playing football, hurling or whatever sport can stop one person from contracting the virus and dying then it is a no-brainer for me. 

"Pull the plug on sport. No contact minimises the risk of a person catching Covid-19.” 

As well as GAA, O'Shea was a noted soccer keeper with Castleview. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
As well as GAA, O'Shea was a noted soccer keeper with Castleview. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It is an old adage but a true one that players just want to play. You cannot blame individuals for wanting to get back out on the training pitch during the current pandemic but not at the risk of infecting a fellow team mate or opponent. 

“I’d be the same if I was a player, I’d be itching to get back out there,” O’Shea admitted.

“I know exactly what getting the virus is like. The fact is that I was stuck in the house and had to self-isolate. Even if I wanted to leave the house I couldn’t because I was physically drained.

“I had a temperature and fever for 12 hours of each day. Sleep was a non-runner and the fever was playing tricks with my mind so I just couldn’t settle no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t sleep at all.

“Physically, I found two weeks of isolation incredibly tough going but what choice did I have? Then, the government brought in travel restrictions but thankfully, I have since been able to carry out emergency jobs as an electrical contractor on a couple of occasions.

“I’m very thankful because things could have been a lot worse. I could have had to go to hospital or even lost a relative to the virus. Because of all that, I don’t see how anyone could go back playing until it was absolutely safe to do so.”

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