"I don’t think it was any coincidence that I refocused on one sport shortly after" 1 month ago

"I don’t think it was any coincidence that I refocused on one sport shortly after"

Chasing a ball around was his life, it was his escape and it was the identity he was comfortable with.

For a young and insecure Jason Sherlock, sport was a sanctuary. Unease about his heritage and his appearance tamed him otherwise but on the field, there was a sense of belonging.

"When the colour of your skin singles you out, you look for acceptance, and for a lot of people it’s through sport," Sherlock said on The Sunday Game earlier this year.

So as a youngster, he played them all. Soccer, basketball, hurling, Gaelic football, you name it. He may have been small in stature but the Finglas lad was big in heart and skill and as is the case with many sporting stars, he was an all-rounder who excelled at every game he turned his hand to.

What makes his success all the more impressive is that he came through at a time when Ireland wasn't the most open or accepting of communities but undeterred and courageous, he rose above it all to reach the very top.

In soccer, he was good enough to score 40 League of Ireland goals. In basketball, he played for his country and in hurling and Gaelic football, he was one of Na Fianna's finest.

There comes a time when every multi-talented star must make a decision though and Sherlock's over-exertion all came to a head in 1998 he says, when his form began to dip in all codes.

Last weekend was the 22nd anniversary of a day he flew from a Dublin final with Na Fianna to a League of Ireland game at Finn Harps and while he can now look back on the madness of it all fondly, his memory of the day itself tells a different story.

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"To be fair, that was around the turning point that I had to focus [on one]. It was with Na Fianna in a county final. And I was playing with Shamrock Rovers as well. As a kid, you just wanted to play every sport. You always thought you could. But I suppose realisation sets in and particularly that day, I didn’t perform well in the match, and we lost both matches, so you realise that you’re not doing yourself or your teammates justice. I don’t think it was any coincidence that I refocused on one sport very shortly after that."

"A misspent youth," the Electric Ireland ambassador laughs when asked about his grá for all sports.

"I was more interested in chasing a ball around a court or a pitch, anything to avoid school work and stuff like that. I just was always engaged and fascinated in all sports. I always had a deep passion, one to understand a sport and see how could I apply myself and be good at it because again I wasn't the biggest guy. There were a number of sports that I played that I probably didn't have the physical tools to play them.

"I suppose I'd like to think that I had the aptitude and I had the commitment to try and get better. It's a lesson that I would always share with young boys and girls to try as many sports as you can because you don't know which one might be for you and then secondly the value and the benefit you get from playing sport, have a big impact on your life, just being involved. Obviously in this environment we're in like there's a lot of thought about the wellness and mental health of young boys and girls. I think sport is a great outlet to assist with that..."

Eventually, Sherlock decided to solely focus on Gaelic football with Dublin.

"As a young boy I used to go down to Croke Park, my uncles used to bring me down as a nipper, as a three, four year old, and I always went to Dublin games, my dream was always to play for Dublin. So at the time where there were a number of kind of sports that I was playing and I had to kind of focus because I wasn't doing myself justice. I suppose ultimately it went down to where I had the grá, where I had my deep love and that's why it was Dublin for me.

"Again it would be a lesson or it would be advice I would share with any young boy or girl to try and play something you enjoy and love. It's not a case of well I could end up in the Premiership and I could be on X amount of money. It's whats in your heart, it's why you want to do something because that'll be the fuel that'll make you put in the work and the effort to be the best that you can be."

Jason Sherlock was one of the best around.

Former Minor Dublin manager and footballer, Jason Sherlock, pictured at the launch of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships. Electric Ireland is celebrating the seventh year of its landmark #GAAThisIsMajor campaign, with the return of the Player of the Week initiative and the Minor Star awards.