THE team ethic is the key element to Blackrock’s return to the top table according to club legend and current selector Wayne Sherlock.
He was thrilled by their grit and determination in Sunday's engrossing SHC semi-final, a 0-21 to 2-14 win over a highly-rated Na Piarsaigh side, with Michael O'Halloran's point sending them into a first county final in 14 years.
“The way they performed put the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. It was such a team performance. We’ve no superstar but we’ve a great bunch of fellas who work hard.”
By the same token, Sherlock is adamant no one on the southside will be getting carried away. They’re reared on competing for the highest honour in Cork hurling and lifted three counties between 1999 and 2002 when he was manning their defence alongside current manager Fergal Ryan.
“We’re only in the county final now, we’ve nothing won and a club like Blackrock can’t be celebrating winning a semi-final. The dressing room after the quarter-final was like we’d lost because fellas hadn’t played well.
“We’ve been trying to instill belief because even though we’ve won a bit underage there was pressure on them. Underage means nothing. We’d take senior semi-finals or finals over underage. From the minute you start with Blackrock your aim has to be a senior county medal.”
They certainly showed belief in the response to Evan Sheehan’s two-goal burst after half-time.
“Two goals down people would have written us off but we’ve only got to a final. We kept plugging away, got 16 or 17 points from play. We missed a couple of frees but it didn’t affect us.
“Tadhg Deasy came on at the end. Missed a ball but chased back and got a hook in. We wanted fellas to hunt in packs. Our motto was to fight for everything until the end.”
Was there a sense of vindication after a few years on the margins, despite the underage silverware being collected?
“No. We just weren’t good enough. There wasn’t a game we should have won and the ref robbed us or whatever. We just didn’t perform.
“Our attitude wasn’t right in certain games or at certain times. No matter what happens you have to keep going. You saw that after Sheehan got the goals. We settled again.
“Winning the league kept us together last year after losing in the championship. We were hurling away. Now at the same time it was the league, but sure it didn’t do us any harm.”
Before they take on the winners of the Sars-Imokilly replay, their dual players have a county final against Mallow next Sunday.
“We’ve a tough few weeks with st Michael’s in a final but if they win it’ll give us a bounce. Would you prefer to have this situation or be out? Six fellas in both teams… it’s great for our area.
“The flags are out. My son Lee is eight and he’s never seen a Blackrock team in a county final. The underage lads now get to see the stuff in the paper, everything that goes with the build-up. The fellas in the dressing don’t have to worry about that.”