SALEM NEWS: Patrick Shea now playing professionally in Ireland
By Bill Kipouras
SALEM EVENING NEWS
Patrick Shea has returned to the Old Sod.
The first trip to Ireland for the former Assumption College captain and basketball star from Salem was a ball. He went as part of an 11-member Shea family task force that toured the country after his senior year at Salem High in 2005.
This time around, the 23-year-old Shea, a 6-foot-7 point guard, is playing basketball in Dublin and getting paid for it. He's got everything except a car.
"I'd say the center of the city is about a 10-minute walk south from my hotel," Shea said, "so not having a car is not a problem. I can also jump on a bus.
"I'm glad I don't have a car; I'd probably drive on the wrong side of the road and have an accident. They drive on the left like England."
The meals, he said, somehow don't taste as good as the 2005 visit.
"I can't really tell the reason," Shea said, "but the meat isn't the same. I miss King's Roast Beef on North Street in Salem. It's unbelievable."
Nor has it been very sunny. "I pull the shades up in the morning and it's cloudy," he said.
Shea said he thought he'd return to Ireland some day, but not on a non-vacation basis.
"I love Dublin. I was here five days that first time, this time I'm hopefully still around until March," he said. "We have a 20-game schedule and if we can make the playoffs and win a game or two, I could still be here for St. Patrick's Day."
Right now, his University College of Dublin team (U.C.D. Marian is how it's listed) has an 0-3 record heading into tomorrow's game against the University of Limerick. Limerick's 3-0 and one of top clubs in Ireland's Super "A" League.
He's the only paid pro---and the one American---on his team. The coach, Fran Ryan, is expecting big things from Patrick Shamus Shea against Limerick.
First of all, it'll be his first starting assignment. Oddly enough, one of New England's best Division 2 all-around performers has been averaging 4.2 points and about 12-15 minutes a game.
You've heard that new dance floor phrase, 'Show me what you've got?' It'll be showtime for Shea against Limerick. He's under orders from Coach Fran Ryan to shoot the ball. The fact that he hasn't explains his bench time.
Ryan was explicit about Shea's new role.
"He told me to shoot it just about every time I get a touch," Shea said. "He wants me scoring, not passing off. I've always tried to play unselfish. Now, instead of setting up the others, I have to set up myself.
"He pulled me aside this week and we went all over this. 'Shoot it as much as possible.' Those were his exact words."
His unselfishness on the court probably cost Shea a chance to be a 1,000-point scorer at Assumption. He fell 18 points short.
Ryan told Shea not be surprised if he goes the full 40 minutes versus Limerick.
"It's almost like I have to prove myself, but I don't feel nervous about it. The Americans are superior to the locals," said Shea. "I definitely can handle my own over here. I'll try to be No. 1. (Tomorrow) is big for me. I'm playing well enough and have the confidence that I'll be all right."
Serge DeBari, the Assumption coach, is one of Shea's biggest fans.
"He's capable of playing in Ireland and certainly has the potential to play at a higher level," DeBari said. "Patrick became a player in college; I think that best describes him. When a coach calls someone a player, there's not much higher praise.
"A player is a shooter, plays offense, defense, rebounds, can block shots, shoots the three, gets his share of assists and you'll see him diving on the floor for a loose ball. In other words, he can do everything," DeBare said.
Desite an ailing back that stemmed from Salem High and at times at Assumption, Shea was anxious to give the next level a shot. He summered in Newport, R.I., working as a waiter, and waited for word about Dublin.
"It was OK until business tailed off and the colleges were ready to open. I didn't know what I was going to do. Getting Fran Ryan's call was a relief.
"I love basketball. I know I can't play forever, but maybe I'll play a few years. I'm not opposed to playing longer here — but I'm not banking on it, either," Shea said.