Former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland star John O’Shea takes our Quick 18
Waterford’s John O’Shea achieved many of his footballing dreams with Manchester United. But while he loves to play golf and has ambitions to get his handicap down to single figures, the assistant manager to the Republic of Ireland’s U21 team still dares to dream.
While he won 14 trophies at United; five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, four FA Community Shields, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup, winning a major tournament with Ireland would be a dream come true, as he explained before yesterday’s Horizon Irish Open Pro-Am at Mount Juliet.
1. How is your golf? It’s not bad. I have been playing a little bit better, but there is always room for improvement. The public should watch out at Mount Juliet today, there is still the odd shank in the bag.
2. How did you get started in the game? I played pitch and putt from an early age and I started playing golf when I was about 14 or 15 at Waterford Golf Club. I am an honorary member there now, which was a nice touch by the club a couple of years ago.
3. Choose your weapon….Driver or putter? And why? I’d choose the driver. There is no better feeling than flushing the drive. But obviously if we are talking about competitions, we’d have to say the putter because you putt for dough, as they say. But no, I’d have to choose the driver for satisfaction.
4. Links or parkland? Why? Parkland for me. It’s very close because I enjoy links golf too. But parkland golf is a little more forgiving.
5. When were you happiest on the golf course? An early memory involves Mark McEvoy, a good friend of mine who is caddying for me in the Pro-Am at Mount Juliet today. We came up to Mount Juliet for the Irish Open Pro-Am in 1995 when Sam Torrance won and managed to caddy for a couple of the golfers. I caddied for Robert Allenby because their caddies hadn’t turned up. So we managed to caddie for them for four or five holes until the caddies turned up and shook off their hangovers.
6. Who’s your sporting hero? There would have been a few. But I’d have to pick out Paul McGrath and Paolo Maldini. They were amazing players.
7. Name an opponent or rival you especially admire and why. It would have to be Sergio Aguero because of his stature. I didn’t mind playing against taller and more physical players, but the smaller ones were always more difficult. He had great movement and that turn of pace and he was obviously a great finisher. If you gave him half a yard, he was getting a shot off. Very similar to Messi.
8. What’s your golfing ambition? Do you have one? I enjoy the craic, but if I had a goal, it would be to try and get down to single figures. If I could do that, I would be very happy with that.
9. Name your dream fourball (they don’t have to be golfers). And name the venue. Vladimir Putin? We’ll leave him out for the minute anyway. I’d have to go with Michael Jordan after watching him growing up. He seems to be a great golfer and he enjoys life too. We’d take on Messi and Ronaldo at Mount Juliet. I might need local advantage.
10. If you could change something about modern football, what would it be? The tactical fouling. If you could somehow punish that more effectively. It’s part of the game and good players and good teams get away with it. I’d like referees to deal with it a bit better. It is an art, and I appreciate that, but it slows the game down too.
11. If I gave you a mulligan in your golfing career, what would it be? There are probably a couple, but I am happy with how everything went. It didn’t go to plan all the time. I wouldn’t change much.
12. If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? Don’t say Augusta National unless you absolutely must. Waterford Golf Club would be up there and if that was unavailable, I’d have to head for Augusta.
13. What’s your favourite par three? The 16th at Waterford Golf Club. It’s a nice easy par-three (laughs).
14. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Doesn’t have to be about golf. There are too many things to mention. But if I had to say one, I’d like to plan ahead a little better.
15. What’s your most treasured possession? If there was a fire, what’s the first thing you’d save? If there was a fire, all I would care about would be my wife and kids and the dogs. Of course, there are medals and jerseys in the house somewhere, but I’d just be making sure the family was okay. And the dog! All my memorabilia is special. I wouldn’t just be grabbing one thing in particular.
16. If you could change something about your golf, what would it be? When I started off, I hit it left to right, and now I hit it right to left. If I could just go down the middle, it would be simpler.
17. Who’s your favourite golfer of all time? Why? It would have to be Tiger Woods. But the Irish lads have been great. Pádraig Harrington winning again, he’s been an inspiration over the years competing at the top level and I got to play with Shane Lowry not so long ago. It’s great to see what he’s doing and obviously, Séamus Power has been incredible for the last year or two. It’s incredible to see him 36th in the world. It’s great to see.
18. What’s your idea of perfect happiness. To get to a major tournament with Ireland and win it. That would be perfect happiness.