By Niall Gartland
RACKING up more than 100 appearances for your county is a remarkable accomplishment by any measurement, but especially so when your county didn’t even field a team for a number of years.
Cavan goalkeeper Darren Sheridan has achieved just that, recently crossing the 110-barrier for the county’s senior hurling inter-county team, even though they were out of commission for a period of six years between 2011 and 2017.
It looked like Cavan hurling’s race was run at county level, but they pulled back from the abyss and have been making incremental improvements, even winning this year’s Division 3B title.
They’re also holding their own in this year’s Lory Meagher competition – they’re joint-top of the table after three group stage games with two more to come, starting with Longford this Saturday – and the man between the sticks, Sheridan, is a familiar figure and, a Cavan hurling legend.
“I’ve been playing roughly 20 years at this point. I can’t even remember when I made my debut, I wasn’t long after turning 16. I can’t remember the exact game, I started off at corner-back and now I’m in nets.
“There were plenty of bad times, a lot of bad results and bad numbers at training. It went under for a good five years but we got it back going. Seamus Hughes and Sean Farrell were the main men to get the thing back going and they managed us for a number of years. Ollie Bellew is in taking us now, and all those men have brought a bit of professionalism to it and lads have been willing to train hard for them.”
The Mullahoran clubman recognises that he can’t go on forever and he has been tempted to retire. But when it became apparent that their current manager Bellew would remain involved this season, he decided to return for another crack at it, and it’s fair to say it’s been worthwhile.
“After we reached the Lory Meagher final two years ago, I made the decision to retire but came back just to help the thing out. Last season was a very bad year, we were getting it tight for numbers. I retired again at the end of last season but as soon as I heard Ollie was coming back I rang him and asked him if I could get back for another year and I’m glad I did.
“Winning the league was massive. We’ve slogged for years trying to get to that level and lucky enough we crossed the line this year.”
He knows Cavan hurling inside out and comes from a family steeped in the code. Once he hangs up the hurl, he isn’t sure whether coaching or managing would be for him, however.
“We have a number of hurling heartlands and we’re well spread out. You have the few people in each of those clubs who keep pushing it on and keeping the clubs alive. Cavan is predominantly football and you do lose a lot of young lads to football.”
On his own future, he added: “I don’t really fancy coaching on any big scale, I’d just like to be able to help out a bit more. I can’t see myself managing, I wouldn’t have the patience for it!”