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Cork's Erika O'Shea 'All Good' After 'Scary' Injury Experience In AFLW

Pictured is Cork footballer Erika O’Shea at SuperValu’s launch of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Sponsors of the Championship for a fourteenth consecutive season, SuperValu were joined by Gaelic Games role models and advocates from across the country in Croke Park to highlight the role of GAA communities in making Ireland a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming country for all. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
By PJ Browne Updated
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Cork footballer Erika O'Shea says her sight is now "all good" after a "scary" experience late last year in which she lost vision in her left eye.

"I still have to get it checked out every couple of months," O'Shea said at SuperValu’s launch of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

The Macroom native was playing for North Melbourne against Richmond in the AFLW last October when took an elbow to her eye while escorting the ball over the goal line.

"My eye was open when she did it," O'Shea explained.

"I was out of it, didn't know what was happening. It was a freak accident. It caused extreme hyphema. My eye filled with blood.

"The doctor called me off for a check. I was like, 'I'm not coming off'. She was like, 'Can you see?' I was like 'I can't see but it'll come back in a second. It'll be fine. Leave me alone'. It's just the Irish in my telling me that I'm fine and I'm not coming off unless my arm is hanging off me. I got dragged off and was fighting the whole way.

"I came off and they said to me that I wasn't reacting to light. My eye, the pupil was blown and it wasn't reacting. It was starting to fill with blood, she said that she could see it. Then I got brought straight to hospital, and I said 'Oh, this could be serious'. I'd never been brought to hospital before.


"I remember looking at Esther, the player development officer, and I was like, 'Am I going to be able to see again?' She was like, 'Yeah, you will' but I knew by her voice that she was not certain.

"I was lucky that I had the support of the club. She called over loads of times with flowers and chocolate. That experience was scary. They said they didn't know when my vision would come back, if it would fully come back. That was a lot to hear, being so young and alone in a different country."

19 February 2022; Hannah Leahy of Dublin in action against Erika O'Shea of Cork during the Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 1 match between Dublin and Cork at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It took three weeks for her vision to return fully. Her mother Maria flew to Australia to help during her recovery.

"I told her I got injured and got hit but didn't tell her the extent of it," said O'Shea.


"She was watching the game [at home in Cork] but she missed that because the TV froze, luckily. She would have been like any other Irish mother and had a heart attack.

"She got a call from the hospital saying I was there. She did get a fright but I rang her myself and pretended everything was grand. I knew she was so far away, and didn't expect her to fly over.

"There's a video of my meeting my mam when she came over. I just broke down. I was on the floor, couldn't stand up. I was just so grateful to have her because it was the scariest experience."


The injury - which happened in the final round of the regular season - cut short O'Shea's first campaign with North Melbourne, one which saw them reach the preliminary finals.

Though it was at times a "lonely experience", O'Shea never questioned her decision to leave Ireland to play a professional sport.

15 August 2021; Vikki Wall of Meath in action against Erika O'Shea of Cork during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Meath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"I remember thinking if I was 42 and looked back having not taken this opportunity, that would be the biggest regret of my life. I don't want a life full of regrets," she said.

'Within four days, I was back in Cork training'

O'Shea missed last year's championship with Cork after committing to playing for North Melbourne. However, she came to an agreement with the club which will allow her to play with Cork this season.


"I was actually very lucky with North Melbourne. They're a very accommodating team," she said.

"Me and Vicki Wall discussed with the team that we would like to play football when we go home. They said they're happy for us to be dual athletes for as long as possible. They're very supportive of us. We said we were really grateful to be able to do what we love.

"I didn't know what was happening but within four days [of returning to Ireland], I was back in Cork training. I was greeted by Shane (Ronayne, the Cork manager) after a few days when I came off the plane. He was very welcoming.

"He just said that he'd like me to be part of the team again. I was lucky because there is such talent there in Cork and we have such a wide selection that I wasn't sure I was going to be asked back. I was grateful that Shane asked me back. There's great management there this year, a great bond between all the team and them."

See Also: Clifford And O'Hora Say Kerry And Mayo Panels Would Support Gay Players

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