EVEN AMIDST THE dark days for Mayo football, Aidan O’Shea never lost hope of gracing the marquee national stages.
It’s only two years since the Connacht outfit limped out of the championship with a mid-summer exit against Longford yet O’Shea was always convinced that the dream of featuring for the county on All-Ireland final day remained an attainable goal. Next Sunday that will become a reality in Croke Park when Mayo square off against Donegal.
“I’ve been at 10 or 12 All-Ireland Finals and of course, I was quite confident I would be there,” O’Shea told TheScore.ie. ”I’m quite confident I’ll be there a few times before I finish as well. It is just something you’ve gotta embrace. If you don’t enjoy playing the All-Ireland Final in Croke Park in front of 80,000 people then you’re playing the wrong sport, you’re doing the wrong thing.”
O’Shea will relish the experience next Sunday more after bouncing back from injury problems this season. The Breaffy midfielder suffered from osteitis pubis – an inflammation of the pubic bone – towards the end of the league but a structured rehabilitation programme helped restore him to full fitness.
By the time of the Connacht final he was back on the pitch to help his side dig out success in the second-half against Sligo.
“It’s an overuse injury. I’m lucky in that there’s two boys in the panel, Ger Cafferkey and Chris Barrett had it before and they were out for a year. A good buddy of mine, Tom Parsons, he played with Mayo a couple of years ago, he’s had it for the last 18 months and can’t play football at the moment.
“That’s how severe it can get if you don’t treat it right. I got through it in fifteen weeks which is quite good. It’s great to be playing because sometimes I thought I wouldn’t be back this year. After the last regular game of the league down in Kerry, I literally could not get off the floor after the game. Barry (Moran) had to lift me off. It was a long bus journey home from Kerry and I was in serious pain.
“It was affecting my day to day life so I had to make a decision. I sent out an email the next day to James, saying that I wasn’t playing the following week in the league semi-final. It was probably the hardest thing I had to do as a footballer but I knew it was going to be beneficial.”
Mayo team physio Liam Moffatt along with Castlebar-based physio Martin McIntyre helped O’Shea to get back to the required fitness levels but rest was the key ingredient in his comeback.
“I got a bit of slagging in Portugal because I got to chill out by the pool and the lads reckoned I was wearing a little thong but don’t believe them,” laughed the 22 year-old. “The tan is still going strong though! The first couple of weeks I was very wary of putting on weight but I was lucky enough to have a nice discipline to my life.
“At the time I was working and you’d regular meals. As long as you keep your diet nice and steady you are going to be okay. Once I was able to do a bit in the pool or cycling, I could keep ticking over.”