ST FINBARR’S sharp-shooter, Steven Sherlock, admits there’s no escape from the past out Togher direction.
The 24-years-old may have two county medals and topped the scoring charts with 3-41 in 2021, but he’s constantly reminded of the glory days of Munster and All-Ireland club triumphs.
“You can’t really come out to the Barrs and not be hounded by fellows talking about the great days in the 1980s and the fantastic players back then,” he said.
But, now it’s the turn of his generation of gifted performers to showcase their talents in the Munster final against Kerry’s Austin Stacks in Thurles on Sunday at 1.45pm.
“We always believe we’ve a good team ourselves and we needed a county to prove that,” added the sales rep with Auto Parts and Crowley Chemicals.
“After it we wanted to push on and win a second. We’ve done that, so it’s the next step, which is Munster.”
Sherlock’s magnificent run of scoring decorated the Barrs county, culminating in the win over Clonakilty in the final, though he’s quick to point to the collective.
“I put my own form down to the panel because we’ve been together since June. It meant we had the Cork lads, Ian and Sam, back as well as Brian Hayes from the U20s.
“We’ve had a full panel from July on and that’s helped because we became more consistent and improved game on game.
I’m definitely enjoying my football more this season, 100%. I found playing with the Barrs extremely enjoyable especially after two tough years with Covid and all that.
“To come out and forget about all that kind of stuff and play football week on week has been brilliant. And the fact that we’re all great friends helps as well, of course. I mean winning a county championship with your buddies is what it’s all about really.
“This is dreamland for us and we don’t want the journey to end on Sunday because we’re having the time of our lives.”
Sherlock’s recall to the Cork set-up came as no surprise though the break also helped.
“When you’re in with Cork you’d have the Barrs at the back of your mind as well and it’s hard to juggle the two.
“You become fully focused on football and it’s football, football and more football every single day. With the club, though, you train Tuesday and Thursday and have a match at the weekend, but the other days are proper days off.”
A notable aspect of the Barrs displays has been their high fitness levels with Sherlock a prime example of the benefits of new strength-and-conditioning coach Brian Roche.
“He has been massive as was Kevin Healy before him, not to mention being the scariest man alive.
Brian has helped push our fitness levels through the roof and it’s all done with the ball which is brilliant.”
Sherlock is realistic at the same time, acknowledging the extent of the challenge posed by their Tralee opponents.
“It’s obviously going to be a tough game and we’re going in as underdogs.
“It’s new territory for us, yet, everyone is looking forward to it and there’s a great buzz around the club.
“People are getting their flags out again and it’s very exciting for everyone involved. Stacks are a serious outfit and you can see the talent in their side.
“They are Kerry champions for a reason and Stacks are sure to put it up to us, but, hopefully, we can do the same to them.”
Sherlock has linked well with newcomer Conor McCrickard up front.
“He’s been huge for us and a massive help for the whole team. Conor brings a lot of experience from his time in Down and he also had a different style of playing that we were used to, but he’s completely adapted to our way.
“Conor kicked some critical scores during the season and, of course, scored those two goals in the semi-final against Éire Óg, Ennis.”
Preparations included a challenge game against Sigerson Cup hopefuls UCC last week.
“It was great to get used to playing on soft pitches once more."