"I definitely feel I wasn't the player I was before I won." - Sherlock on dealing with the hype of a career less ordinary 2 weeks ago

"I definitely feel I wasn't the player I was before I won." - Sherlock on dealing with the hype of a career less ordinary

Boom boom boom, now let me hear you say Jayo, JAYO!

Jason Sherlock can see clearly now.

Advertisement

It's 27 years on and when he looks back, with the benefit of hindsight, there's not a doubt in his mind.

He lost his focus. The hype went to his head.

Because when he thinks about it, and he doesn’t shy away from the fact, it's obvious to him that, after winning the All-Ireland in '95, for one reason or another, he was never the same player again.

Long story short, that was because he’d realised his ambition. That classic old tale of the desire never re-generating again.

Advertisement

But this isn’t another classic old tale because when it comes to Jason Sherlock, it was never as simple as that. There’s a lot more to it.

First things first, as a youngster who was uneasy about his identity off the pitch, the main reason sport appealed to Jason Sherlock, at the beginning anyway, was because it was where he felt at home..

But by September ‘95, as the boy wonder of Dublin’s All-Ireland winning team he wasn’t just accepted in Dublin city, he was the hottest ticket in town.

“For me, sport was always an outlet to be accepted. When I won an All-Ireland, you are accepted,” the 47-year-old says now at Sport Ireland’s Workout what works for you campaign.

Advertisement

“My sporting ambition dwindled in that time because I was happy to be accepted, as such.”

At the time, Sherlock wasn’t just a GAA star, he was a basketballer and a soccer star too and he talks about how hard it was, in the eye of such hype, to keep his focus up.

"I did find that it wasn't just sporting focus but I lost focus after '95 when we won an All-Ireland. That definitely had an impact on my performance in all sports. After a few years, I realised that to give myself the best chance of performing at any sport, I need to focus."

Advertisement

It all came to a head on one Sunday in '98, on Dublin senior football county final day, when, after playing the game for Na Fianna, Sherlock flew from Dublin to Finn Harps to play for Shamrock Rovers in a League of Ireland match.

"That kicked off then around the late 90s, early 2000s where I only played a season with Shamrock Rovers, and then at that stage decided to focus on GAA to give myself the best chance to perform. And my teammates, I'm sure they were sick of me trying to play [both] for a few years when I wasn't performing to any decent level."

"I didn't realise it at the time, but it's something that I've reflected upon. I definitely feel I wasn't the player I was before I won, probably because I lacked that focus and motivation once we got that little bit of success."

"In terms of getting over (to England as a soccer player,) the closest I got was before I started playing senior inter-county where I was playing with UCD, and was only at the start of my senior inter-county career. That was probably the only time... I had a couple of trials with West Ham when I was about 15 or 16. That was the closest."

Sherlock went onto play for the Dubs until 2010 and, like most competitive sports people, he found it difficult to keep motivation high in the years that followed.

"You probably get to the end of the road because your body won't do what your mind wants it to do. Certainly from my perspective, we all have the cumulative damage from playing sport.

"So from a motivational perspective, I wasn't very motivated to continue to sort of look after my physical well-being. So it was more through playing five-a-side soccer, masters basketball or going to the gym at work and now golf - they've been the main outlets for me to keep up some physical activity.

"So not only sports people, it's important that you see physical activity as something that enhances your life, not as a sacrifice or a chore or you need to beat your personal best. It's that you add it as part of your life to enhance your life and I suppose that's where I am in my stage of my life.'"

At this stage of his life, as a former mutliple All-Ireland winning coach with Dublin, Sherlock is unsurprisingly being linked with a host of inter-county managerial jobs and while admitting that he did 'connect' with Monaghan, he's unsure still if it's for him.

Advertisement

"I don't think missed is the word," he says of coaching and managing, seeing as he hasn't been involved with a team since the Dubs in 2019.

"Anyone that's been involved in inter-county - it's a privilege and it's great and obviously, I came at a good time from a success perspective, got to deal with a lot of great players and great people so it is a big commitment and it's great to get your life back and have a bit of normality and focus on other areas of your life.

"But we all have a big interest in sport and you do get to a stage where you're open to maybe getting involved in some capacity. It's been three seasons now that I haven't been involved so who knows what might happen in the future."

12 September 2022; Former Dublin footballer, Jason Sherlock in attendance at the launch of Sport Ireland ‘Workout What Works for You’ campaign at Albert College Park in Dublin. This campaign is supporting men over 45 to be more active and increase their daily physical activity. For tips, go to sportireland.ie/workout. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile