Quinn happy win or lose after brush with death
REGARDLESS of the result in the Offaly county football final tomorrow, Clara full-back Joe Quinn will be smiling.
The last 12 months have given him perspective. In the early part of June last year, his biggest adversary was the hamstring strain that had ruled him out of Offaly's Leinster SFC defeat to Kildare. Within a couple of weeks, he would be fighting for his life.
An illness struck the Clara man down and after complications, his heart stopped beating for a full 15 minutes. The sports science graduate was 24 years old, in excellent physical shape and in the process of getting Aspire -- the business he set up that provides weekend training facilities for sports teams and clubs -- off the ground before his world fell down around him.
That he has lived to tell the tale is remarkable and the initial prognosis was that playing field sports again was out of the question, but a second opinion gave him hope. He was told he'd miss a full year of football but he could live with that. After last summer, he could live with anything.
"It's hard enough to talk about," he said. "But football gave me a reason to come back. It was a focus for me. If I didn't have football, I believe my recovery would have taken a lot longer."
He appreciates it all a lot more now. Clara is buzzing this week ahead of the showdown with Rhode, a repeat of last year's county final. Quinn had recovered enough to carry the water that day but, under doctor's orders he couldn't play.
He spoke to the players before throw-in and told them what seizing the moment was really all about. They won and tomorrow offers the chance to retain the title for the first time in the club's history.
He's been kept busy while he waited for his return to action and trained with the Offaly senior hurlers last year. Aspire is going from strength to strength too, with All-Ireland champions Tipperary and the Leinster rugby team among their clients.
He eased himself back in gradually, coming on for the closing stages of a couple of games earlier in the year. Last month's semi-final win over Tullamore was his first championship start for his club in two years.
That time has passed by in the blink of an eye, meaning he knows not to waste it.
"There's no risk to playing. My family made sure of that. They checked and checked again with the doctors! Last year was brilliant but it was frustrating not to be a part of it too, looking on from the sidelines.
"Before all this happened I was 24. Next year I'll be 27. That time has flown by. I'm hoping to get back in with Offaly next year too, but I've really enjoyed this week and the build-up. I'm taking it all in because you really don't know when you'll get the chance again."
And there it is. Perspective. There will be a squad of players devastated tomorrow evening in O'Connor Park, as there will be all around the country, but it's not a matter of life and death and Quinn knows it.
"Everyone will appreciate the final and what it's all about but maybe none of them will enjoy it as much as me."