He was a key figure in a campaign that is still fondly remembered by the much older generation and the final victory over Kilkenny has stood the test of time.
WHEN Kieran Murphy of Sarsfield’s came on to the Cork senior panel in the early 2000s, he had to get up to speed quickly as the training matches were of such a high intensity.
“I remember in one of those games I was marked by Wayne Sherlock,” he said “and he gave me a bit of a lesson. When I was coming off, I was talking to Seánie McGrath and he said, “Don’t worry about it, Sherlock destroys us all!”
The encapsulation of a player who did his job with the minimum of fuss, Sherlock didn’t come from a GAA background but soon began to shine in the Blackrock under-age structure and earned call-ups to Cork sides.
A key member of the teams that won All-Ireland U21 titles in 1997 and 1998, he was among several young turks given their chance by Jimmy Barry-Murphy for the breakthrough 1999 season, a rock of solidity in the right half-back position. That same year, he helped Blackrock to end a 13-year wait for a Cork SHC title.
While Cork failed to immediately build on that success for several reasons, Blackrock did and Sherlock was again integral as they won the Seán Óg Murphy Cup again in 2001 and 2002, with Sherlock nominated as Cork captain after the ’01 triumph.
When Cork made it back to the steps of the Hogan Stand under Dónal O’Grady in 2004, Sherlock was imperious at right corner-back, earning an All-Star award that year. While surgery in the early part of 2005 meant that he wasn’t a starter that year, he remained an important member of the panel as the Liam MacCarthy Cup was retained.
He retired in 2007, still shy of his 30th birthday, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that his absence was felt in the years that followed.
As a player, he kept it simple and backed himself.
“As the years went on, you were given videos and DVDs of players; but to be honest, I never, ever looked at one of them,” he said.
“In my head, I felt that if I focused on it too much – whether a guy pucked off his left or right or whatever – you’re nearly overthinking it and second-guessing."