NEW Cork ladies football coach Paddy O’Shea represents a safe pair of hands and an important member of Ephie Fitzgerald’s backroom team for 2020.
O’Shea’s Twitter profile states: ‘Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose’. It is an apt tag line, the mantra of the team in the Friday Night Lights movie and TV show, for one of the county’s most highly regarded coaches and will probably be repeated many times over the next 12 months as Cork’s seniors look to return to the summit of ladies football.
Ephie Fitzgerald’s decision to stay on as Cork senior manager proved a timely boost ahead of another gruelling season for the county’s ladies senior footballers.
Agreeing to remain at the helm for another spell, the former Nemo Rangers club man has a new-look coaching setup for the 2020 campaign.
One of the most notable changes to the Cork backroom setup sees Paddy O’Shea’s promotion from goalkeeping to senior coaching position.
A former Cork goalkeeper and long-time St Vincent’s and Seandún divisional stalwart, O’Shea has picked up a huge amount of experience during his time as a player, selector and coach. The step up to inter-county level is daunting but one O’Shea is clearly ready for.
“It all started when James Masters contacted me early last year and asked if I would be interested in coaching the three Cork senior ladies goalkeepers,” O’Shea told the Echo.
“The new role suited me as I was still coaching St Vincent’s so I agreed to one a night a week with the Cork goalkeepers and an extra weekend session whenever I could. To be honest, I enjoyed the experience immensely as the players were so professional in their approach and a joy to work with.
“Ephie stepped away after our season ended following that defeat to Dublin.
“I was disappointed as I’d only gotten a year to work with the squad. Then, he changed his mind and James (Masters) couldn’t commit to his coaching position for another year. I was absolutely delighted when Ephie asked me if I’d like to get involved in coaching the entire group and I jumped at the opportunity.”
Paddy O’Shea worked extensively with Martina O’Brien, Caoimhe Moore and Lisa Crowley over the past 12 months but the step up to senior coach is going to be even more time consuming. It is a huge commitment and one that requires a lot more planning ahead of an already busy Christmas and New Year period for the self-employed Electrical Contractor.
“To be honest, planning is one of the aspects I enjoy the most when it comes to coaching,” the St Vincent’s club man stated.
“I had more leeway and time to organise myself around my other coaching jobs when I was involved in coaching the Cork goalkeepers last year.
Now that I’m coaching the team alongside Conor Quinlan, I’m relishing the challenge and making out our plans for the coming year.
Carrying out those plans will be the next step because it is not just the nights you are training but the other nights when there will be phone calls to make and another session to plan.
“These are positive things to me though because I enjoy the pressure that comes with being the one responsible for planning and executing those jobs as a coach.”
Under Ephie Fitzgerald, the current Cork senior squad are renowned for their professionalism, attitude and constantly striving to improve.
Despite becoming National League champions, Paddy O’Shea knows he is walking into a dressing room full of players driven towards atoning for last year’s All-Ireland semi-final exit at the hands of eventual champions Dublin.
“Last year was my first time experiencing being involved with ladies football and I was absolutely blown away by the commitment, attitude and effort of the Cork senior players,” admitted O’Shea.
“They are top class in fairness. Having been involved with the Cork seniors for so many years, the ladies are up to that standard, if not better.
“There is a great base to work from already as Ephie and many of the players have four hard years put in. It is not a case of forgetting all that and starting from scratch again with myself, Conor and Ephie, it is a case of building on that experience and adding to it.”
Fitzgerald’s reputation as a coach is well documented but perhaps one of the Cork senior manager’s best traits is his ability to delegate responsibility and put trust in his individual management team members.
That trait is a huge positive for Paddy O’Shea and something that encouraged the coach to accept his new role.
“I spent a lot of time with Ephie over the past year as goalkeeping coach and got to see him in action during various training sessions,” O’Shea explained.
“I spoke to him a lot and was excited to see how he worked. He takes time to pick the right people and puts his trust in them from day one.
“Make no mistake, he is the manager, but from my point of view, he only saw me up close for about a year, so it is flattering that he thought enough of me to take on a bigger role. It is a huge compliment to me personally and an opportunity I am determined to make the most of.”
As a goalkeeping coach, the Cork players and Ephie Fitzgerald instantly recognised Paddy O’Shea’s value to their senior set-up.
Now the Cork Ladies seniors have acquired a dedicated and driven coach who is determined to make his mark, as underlined by: ‘Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose’.