JASON SHERLOCK refused to be drawn on his inter-county future yesterday, but he will meet with Pat Gilroy in April to decide if he will give another summer to the Dublin footballers.
The 34-year-old is the one remaining link with the county’s last All-Ireland winning side of 1995 and so far has sat out all of the O’Byrne Cup and National League fixtures.
That, in itself, is nothing new. It was a similar scenario last spring, after which Sherlock returned to play in all four of the side’s championship games, scoring 1-7.
“The situation for me is that I met Pat a few times after last summer and I met him again around Christmas time,” said Sherlock. “What we said was we would have a chat around April and see how things stand for both parties.
“It goes without saying that Pat is looking for new players, not just for the team, but the panel. He’s not going to learn a whole lot new about myself so it suits both parties to leave things.”
A significant number of household names – Ciaran Whelan, Darragh O Sé, James Nallen and David Heaney – have all called it quits and Sherlock admitted that he had contemplated taking the same path.
For now, he is concentrating on his club Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh and maintaining his perennial love affair with basketball by lining out for St Vincent’s Division Three side.
His coach there is the same Joey Boylan who started him out playing hoops as a 12-year old and Sherlock paid tribute to his old mentor at yesterday’s Volunteers in Irish Sports Awards, of which he is an ambassador.
“I first started playing basketball with them when I was 12 or 13 and he was the one coach that stood out for me with his commitment and dedication and knowledge.
“It’s something you probably don’t appreciate as a player or growing up as a child but, looking back in retrospect, only for those people you wouldn’t be where you are,” he said of volunteers everywhere. “Looking back now, I am very appreciative of some of the people who would have been very close to me.”
Few people can say they have won a senior All-Ireland medal, played for Shamrock Rovers and represented Ireland in both basketball and soccer and yet there is an inescapable feeling that he might have expected more.
He was only 19 and in his debut season with the Dubs when they claimed the Sam Maguire 15 years ago but he rejects the notion that managing a repeat is the be-all and end-all before he hangs up his boots.
“It’s nothing about me having a crusade or anything like that. Obviously, I would believe that, with the panel we have, we haven’t done as well as we could have or should have.
“The nature of any sportsperson is to say ‘yeah, we could be competitive’. But that is using your heart. There is logic as well. You have to use your head. Pat is looking to bring in new players. I was 34 in January so you have to be realistic about these things as well.
“The one thing I would always say is that I believe in the team that is there. Last year’s performance against Kerry was not the real Dublin. Regardless of my situation, I know that Pat Gilroy and the management will be doing their utmost to make Dublin competitive.”
Gilroy has himself attempted to dilute expectations for 2010 by pointing to the fact that the panel needs serious re-construction work in the months ahead but the season has gone better than most expected thus far.
Wins away to Kerry and at home against Derry should, at the very least, stave off relegation in the league and Sherlock has been impressed with the start while adding that it is far too early to be making pronouncements.
As is always the case in Dublin, nothing less than the All-Ireland itself will sate the masses although Sherlock is unwilling to say whether the latest generation will be able to make that happen.
“They haven’t been there (again since 1995) so far and, until we actually win it, you can’t say we can or can’t win it. There’s no guarantee in sport.
“The only guarantee we can give as players is to do all we can and believe that we can be successful. As a sportsperson, if you don’t believe in any goal you won’t achieve it.”
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