Jason Sherlock relished coaching role
By Cian O'Connell
Long before the five in a row was completed, Jason Sherlock sensed something stirring in the capital.
Through resourceful coaching work structures were being established by Dublin GAA.
Sherlock concluded that journey as an integral part of Jim Gavin's management team, but significant work was carried out at grassroots level too. That mattered deeply.
"I've been heavily invested in development squads, I've managed a Dublin minor team, I was involved in a development committee in terms of what role talent development squads have in GAA," Sherlock says.
"I think it is a key area in terms of engaging our young players to commit to playing hurling and football in their counties, to go on playing for them at senior."
It is an area Dublin tapped into with Stephen O'Shaughnessy's efforts helping to put them on the road to ultimate glory.
Former inter-county players invested time and energy helping the next generation to evolve.
"Absolutely," Sherlock admits. "I think Stephen O'Shaughnessy should take a lot of credit for what's gone on in Dublin GAA over the last number of years.
"He's had a cohort of people that have had a deep care and love for Dublin GAA and have been willing to invest their time and with that Dublin have had a pipeline of players that have come through over the last number of years.
"I think you can't underestimate how important that volunteerism is, to be able to be asked to go back and assist and to get guys who have a connection to Dublin to go back and give their time."
Even this weekend Sherlock will watch Dublin's EirGrid All Ireland Under 20 semi-final against Tyrone with real interest.
"The difference it makes in the impact in young players' pathway," Sherlock continues.
"At the time we didn't have any success as a minor team and to be honest it wasn't one of the focuses, but two years later we have a cohort of players playing in an Under 20 semi-final for Dublin.
"I think we've 10 or 11. It's very satisfying for me and as part of a coaching team to see those kids from 13, 14 playing in an All-Ireland semi-final.
"It's probably more satisfying to see some of the guys that didn't make a Dublin minor team at that stage, that they've gone on and responded the right way and they're lining out for Dublin in an All-Ireland Under 20 semi-final.
"Obviously I would hope that a number of them might go on to play senior football in years to come."
Former Na Fianna and Dublin colleague Dessie Farrell has inherited a decorated team, but is dealing with an unprecedented pandemic.
"There are pros and cons," Sherlock remarks about the fractured campaign.
"Dublin, with the existing management, there’s been a distinct break now, a change of guard, and there’s been a good period of time between both, that is now Dessie’s regime and it’s Dessie’s management.
"The challenge with it is he hasn't been able to get together as much as he would have liked. He probably has had limited time to get his ideas and philosophies over and get to know his players and his backroom team.
"If I was preparing for a National League game at the weekend, you're not just thinking of it from a football point of view and the logistics of where we meet for our pre-match meal.
"We now have an additional layer involved in terms of that safety and the protocols. I don't envy any of them and it is to everyone's credit that they are still intent on giving us National League games and a Championship because it is such a challenge in these times."
Farrell was a respected figure in Sherlock's emergence as a footballer.
"Dessie was always a hero of mine growing up," Sherlock admits. "We were in the same school and he was a few years older. I was lucky enough to be a teammate of his and got to know him both from a footballing perspective and a personal perspective.
"Interestingly, I don't know him as a coach because we never overlapped. He was involved with the underage setups, but I just know that the person Dessie is, he has a deep care for the individuals and a deep care for Dublin football.
"That's a good starting point to have and I've no doubt he will do all he can to continue Dublin's success."
Sherlock, the electric teenage hero in the baking summer of '95, played a central role in the intervening decades too.