‘If you start feeling sorry for yourself, you are on the back foot': O’Shaughnessy on MS diagnosis

By John Fogarty
GAA Correspondent

Former Limerick star Andrew O’Shaughnessy says he can’t afford to worry about his multiple sclerosis (MS).

Diagnosed with the condition in 2009 which forced the 2007 All-Star to quit inter-county hurling, an emotional O’Shaughnessy opens up on the brain disease on Andrew O’Shaughnessy — Shaughs’ Story in the TG4/Nemeton Laochra Gael series on TG4 to be screened this day week.

He tells how he took some comfort from having it, rather than another member of his family.

“A young nurse came in — I feel so sorry for her now, she must have just been starting her career — ‘All your tests are coming clear’, trying to reassure me. And then the same one had to come in and tell me that she was a bit too hasty giving me the results, it wasn’t accurate, it transpired. She came back in and said, ‘you are showing signs of multiple sclerosis’.

“My mother was very shocked. I was shocked myself. I broke down once inside in the hospital. Two team-mates came in — Brian O’Sullivan, and my brother Gavin — and for some reason, I don’t know why but I did, but that was the only time.

“I said to (O’Shaughnessy’s wife) Eimear, ‘Look, this is what happened, this is life, you have to accept what has happened. It’s just how you react to it. I said, ‘I’d prefer, of anyone in my family, that I get it ’cause I feel I am the one that is strongest enough to deal with it’. That seems to be the case. I am not letting it get to me. I think about it once a day when I take my medication.

“That’s it. Sin é. That’s life. Get on with it, there are a lot of people in worse circumstance. There are a lot of people in better circumstances. If you start feeling self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself, you are on the back foot straight away, the same as anything.”

The Kilmallock man’s latest MRI revealed “a dramatic decrease of lesions” on his brain and his neurologist Peter Ward couldn’t be happier with him. O’Shaughnessy’s positive attitude certainly helps.

“People think about MS and they associate it with bygone years and the worst-case scenario before medication developed and got better. Fortunately enough, I am not in that case. It might be in some time in the future, but I cannot worry about that."

In part of the programme, O’Shaughnessy returns to the infamous Justin McCarthy era when he and eight others were dropped off the panel after a 2009 season when they lost an All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary by 24 points.

“We were doing hurling drills you do with U12s, a bad U12 team, but I was still committed, as in, ‘We are still going to beat Tipperary, we are still going to beat Tipperary’. Going up, I could have said to a good friend of mine, or Eimear, ‘We’ll either beat Tipp by a few points or we could get annihilated’. And I was right, unfortunately. And we didn’t beat them by two points. I think we weren’t called back because we questioned the decision-making. It wasn’t. We just questioned the process to try and improve things, not trying to give out and critique, this and that. We didn’t accuse anyone, we said, ‘would you not consider this?’

“Subsequently, as that year further developed for myself, the reason he’s gone is because of what’s (MS) after happened to him. That was only an excuse. That was a happy coincidence for them, not a happy coincidence for me.”

Andrew O’Shaughnessy — Shaughs’ Story will be broadcast on TG4 at 9.30pm on Wednesday March 20. You can view previous episodes of the Laochra Gael series on tg4.ie.

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