In the second of ourinterviews with the four Academy Player of the Year nominees ahead of this weekend’s Munster Rugby Awards inassociation with the IrishExaminer, Alan Good talks to Cathal Sheridan
Cathal Sheridan: Sligo man moves up to Munster senior squad next year.
There’s many a sportsman who is wonderfully expressive on the pitch but has little to say for themselves off it. But every so often you encounter a more cerebral player, able to match on-field talent with thoughtful eloquence when they put their actions into words.
Cathal Sheridan fits well into the latter category. When the 23-year-old Sligo-born Munster Academy scrum-half talks about having to wait for opportunities at the province, he takes you aback with the depth and honesty of his explanations.
“You know there’s a pecking order, and you’ve got to wait for your chance. That can be hard to take sometimes, but it’s the nature of the beast,” he begins. “In every line of work you’ll have good and bad weeks. Sometimes you arrive in on Monday morning and you can see the light, other times you can’t see a way in. You prepare for it once you get into the system.
“You’re only human, you can’t help but get frustrated when you’re investing so much into it and you have to keep waiting. But if you get your chance and you’re not fully prepared, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself.”
Having represented Connacht U19, college and family ties took Sheridan to Limerick, and his performances for UL Bohemian brought him to Munster’s attention. He spent more than 18 months in the sub-academy proving he had the attitude and work ethic to be a Munster player, and will move up to a development contract next year as a full-time member of the senior squad.
“Myself, Dave Kilcoyne and Sean Henry spent close to two years in the sub-academy breaking our balls, for want of a better term, because we knew this was what we want to do,” he says.
“Talent is a word that’s thrown around a lot, especially with guys coming out of school. But talent and potential are just buzzwords. To make the step up to the professional game you need a lot more than that.”
An admirer of Ruan Pienaar, Sheridan strives to be the type of scrum-half who, like the Springbok, can run a game. “That’s the sort of player I like to be, I want to be the boss, controlling things. It’s always come naturally to me, I’ve never had to force that. You have to tick all the technical boxes too, but I see myself as a marshal.”
Given Irish international scrum-halves Peter Stringer and Tomás O’Leary have both sought pastures new in the past 12 months, Sheridan is aware of the battle he has on his hands to impress the incoming Munster coach.
“I keep mentioning the word ‘patient’ but you have to keep it in your head to keep yourself sane, moreso than it being a word you want to be mentioning. If you’re not patient, you’ll freak out, especially in a set-up like Munster or Leinster where there’s such competition.
“You can’t walk into the coach’s office and demand to play because there’s three other guys who could be doing the same thing. Next thing you’d have a squad where nobody will play for each other. This year I was hoping to get a couple more opportunities than I did, but you have to keep the head down and be ready when you get the chance.”
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