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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 20 March, 2018

Have boots, will travel: Cillian Sheridan fulfilling eastern promise on latest stop in Poland

The Cavan native has never been afraid to try a new league.

Cillian Sheridan, then of Apoel Nicosia, controls the ball despite the attentions of Barcelona's Sergi Samper during their 2014 Champions League game at the Nou Camp.
Cillian Sheridan, then of Apoel Nicosia, controls the ball despite the attentions of Barcelona's Sergi Samper during their 2014 Champions League game at the Nou Camp.
Image: EMPICS Sport

CILLIAN SHERIDAN’S TRAVAILS on the pitch, and travels off it, are well documented.

The Michael Palin of Irish football, his CV is populated with place names like Sofia, Nicosia and now Bialystok, in the north-east of the Poland, not too far from the Belarussian border.

The Cavan man is happy beating this own path.

“I’ve never really been lonely,” he tells The42. “I’ll still miss things from home, like being able to go out with my friends or go meet up with them , so only from that part of it.”

“[My girlfriend, Jodie] has lived with me the last few years , so I’m not here moving around all the time on my own.”

And while former team-mates in England and Scotland will have their Christmas celebrations curtailed by a packed fixture schedule, there is one considerable benefit of the structure of the Polish league season.

“We’ve three weeks off, and then we come back in January and basically you go and do a pre-season again. That’s your holidays, you can do whatever you want; within reason. My girlfriend’s from Glasgow so I’ll be going over there and probably back home for Christmas and then probably try and get away somewhere, maybe around new year.”

On the field, the style of play in the Polish league, is not too dissimilar to what he experienced before moving outside of Ireland and the UK for his football. “It would be hard, fast-paced and up-and-down, like attacking, defending, attacking, defending.”

Sheridan has seen intensity off the pitch. No stranger to rowdy atmospheres from his stints at Glasgow Celtic, Motherwell, St. Johnstone and Kilmarnock; as well as a loan spell in England with Plymouth Argyle. But what of Poland?

“They’ve had trouble in Poland before, years ago, I think they had quite a bit of trouble and I think they are the same as in Cyprus except I think here there is a bigger fear of the police. I don’t think you’d want to start fighting with them. Whereas in Cyprus there was never really any punishment.

“Fans would maybe get a game abandoned and they’d have to play two games without fans, and then it’s forgotten about until a month later when it happens again. Here, I haven’t seen any bits of violence, or fighting, or crowd trouble.”

With Vladimir, his lively pet dog to look after, the Bailieborough man doesn’t strike you as someone who struggles to fill his hours. With an engaging podcast to keep him busy – Mister Sherry – and a twitter account that is renowned for self-deprecation and sharp wit, Sheridan has developed a penchant for cooking too. As well as taking up cooking, the one-time Ireland international has been getting to know his new home.

“It’s an easy place to live,” he says, “friendly people, the weather’s not as bad as I was expecting.

“We went into Warsaw one day and went to the war museum and that was really good. That kind of gives you a different perspective on the country. Obviously you learn about it in school but, me anyway, I didn’t realise how much Warsaw was involved in the wars. Stuff like that, you kind of get a better sense of their history and kind of how they are.

“It was something I kept putting off. People were telling me I should go, it’s very good. Just the thought of going to a museum, I was thinking, nah, no chance. But in the end I was glad obviously that I went. The thing I’m regretting that I haven’t gone to is Auschwitz, the camps.

Cillian Sheridan with Martin Demichelis Cillian Sheridan challenges Martin Demichelis of Argentina. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I’m happy here, so I’m not trying to force any moves or anything, if something good or something better comes along, you’re always going to be interested. But no, I’m happy here. My contract is until 2019, so at the minute, I’m here until that time.”

With the openings that have occurred since his last Irish appearance in 2010, you’d think his impressive form, in Cyprus and Poland in particular, would have yielded some kind of return in terms of international recognition.

“You’re kind of watching the games, in two ways,” says Sheridan. “You’re watching it thinking, hoping, they qualify, hoping they win; and then part of you is kind of thinking you don’t want them to do good because they don’t want you, kind of thing. That can kind of creep in for a second and then I’m like, ‘ah well that’s not gonna really change anything.’ ”

“It annoys you,” he continues, “the same way it would annoy anyone when you’re not being picked for something, but it’s not in a bitter way, it’s in a professional way.”

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About the author:

Brian Strahan  / Writer and mental health activist

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