Family ties have drawn Andrew O’Shaughnessy into coaching but he’s got the bug now.
Limerick’s former shooting star retired in 2011, aged 26. A multiple sclerosis diagnosis in late 2009 followed controversially being dropped months earlier and by 2011, between it all, he’d lost that desire to give the required 100% commitment.
Coaching has since begun to take its place. That year, he coached his sister’s camogie team, Ballyagran, to a county title. And this year, he joined his brother-in-law Niall Curtin on the sideline to guide Tournafulla to a first-ever Limerick JAHC final.
“I love hurling and when you can’t play, when you’re retired, it’s the next best thing,” he says.
I know people say it’s not the same but I get the same buzz out of it. I love setting up a good training session and seeing the training going well. “Equally, if the training doesn’t go well, I’d be disappointed myself. It’s addictive alright.
When Curtin, a former teammate on Limerick’s All-Ireland U21 champions of 2002, was asking the Kilmallock man to get involved this year, he first asked for the green light from his sister Eimear, Andrew’s wife.
“When he was going asking me first, he asked her for her permission, because we’d two young kids (three and one).
“It’s a big commitment. If you’re going to do anything, you have to do it right.
“I felt I did it some bit right and it seems proven if you win a cup. If you lost the final, you didn’t do it right. It’s so fickle.
“The team has been constantly developing all year. I just tried to get a style of play into them that suited them. Even after the West final [a two-point loss to Killeedy], a man from Killeedy said, ‘ You were unlucky but ye hurled a great style’.
“That means as much to me as actually winning the match at the time. We’re trying to do things right and invariably, if you do things right enough times, you’ll get the win.”
Now 33, how was he as a supporter watching Limerick’s All-Ireland success?
I’d say I’m a great supporter but my wife and my brother say no! I’d be an annoying supporter to sit beside because I’m commentating on everything. I think I’m a good judge of hurling and it’s great being able to read the game but talking the whole way through the match is a bit unfortunate for the people beside you. I don’t realise it but it’s always constructive in fairness, I think.
“They were superb. Even after the Tipperary match, I met a lad in work and I said ‘They’re going to win the All-Ireland’. I never said that about a Limerick team. It’s just the style of hurling they hurled and the intelligence, I said ‘That’s not overnight, they practised that. That’s going to stick with them the whole year.’ It’s great to see success in Limerick.”
As for his illness, he doesn’t give it the space to affect him. “[I’m] good. Can’t think about it too much. It’s not affecting me. I think that’s the problem, if people think about it too much, it’s going to affect you no matter what.”