Wayne Sherlock v Denis Coughlan: Vote for Cork's best city hurlers

In the Battle of the Bridge, the Echo is asking you to pick your favourite players since 1972 north and south of the River Lee
Wayne Sherlock v Denis Coughlan: Vote for Cork's best city hurlers

Have your say in The Battle of the Bridge.

WITH your help, we’re looking to pick the best hurler from either side of St Patrick's Bridge from the last 50 years of action.

The Echo has pitched some of Cork’s finest hurling stars from the northside and southside of Cork city together for a series of fun head-to-head battles. Your votes will decide who goes through and you can see the full list of 16 northside and 16 southside players here.

We're now down to the last eight. 

Today's match-up is Denis Coughlan v Wayne Sherlock. 

WAYNE SHERLOCK (Blackrock)

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.

Blackrock's Wayne Sherlock in action. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Blackrock's Wayne Sherlock in action. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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. 

In recent times, he has been involved with Blackrock teams as well as serving as a selector when Cork won All-Ireland U20 championships in 2020 and 2021. He is now a senior selector under new manager Pat Ryan.

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."

DENIS COUGHLAN (Glen Rovers):

IN selecting any team from any era, be it club or county, the Glen’s Denis Coughlan would be very close to being an automatic choice. 

One of the most decorated hurlers that this great club has ever produced, he was a key figure in so many Glen Rovers triumphs at a time when the Blackpool club contained so many great clubmen, players who would die for a Glen jersey.

Denis Coughlan, fourth from the left in the back row, in the 1967 Glen team. 
Denis Coughlan, fourth from the left in the back row, in the 1967 Glen team. 

His glittering career spanned three decades from the ‘60s to the ‘80s and he was one of those players who fitted in comfortably in various positions. We are selecting him here for a midfield slot in this particular exercise but as a wing-back or at centre-back he would be equally at home.

Of course, it must be stressed too that was equally as accomplished when he wore the colours of St Nick’s footballers or in the county colours of Cork. In fact, he was a dual star in every sense of the word. Growing up in Maddens Buildings, one of the great homes of Blackpool, he played with and against some of the greatest players that the great game of hurling ever produced.

Coughlan was a close friend of Christy Ring and Jack Lynch and playing alongside the maestro from Cloyne was one of the great thrills of his sporting life. With the Glen and with St Nick’s he won everything and, of course, with Cork he was a key member of the great three-in-a-row team of the ‘70s.

He was Hurler of the Year in 1977 and with the Glen he won numerous county senior titles in a side of Glen greats like Mick Lane, Finbarr O’Neill, Patsy Harte, Bill Carroll, Tom Corbett among so many others. He was a great stylist of the game but when the bar was raised higher in so many games, his physical presence was equally evident.

Coughlan was selected as an All-Star hurler on four occasions and he was a huge presence in 1973 when another Glen and St Nick’s great, Donie Donovan managed Cork to All-Ireland football glory.

You could safely say that Denis Coughlan was and remains one of the most popular and likeable people ever to grace a GAA pitch Munster club and All-Ireland club medals with his beloved Glen are two of his proudest possessions. He was one of those hurlers that could not be omitted from any starting 15, he simply had it all.

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