Seamus Prendergast of Ardmore is pictured ahead of the AIB GAA Munster Junior Hurling Club Championship Final on Sunday. For exclusive content and behind the scenes action throughout the AIB GAA & Camogie Club Championships follow AIB GAA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.
Munster Junior Hurling Club Final – Ardmore v Ballybacon-Grange (Tipperary)
This Sunday, December 3, at Mallow at 1.30pm
Seamus Prendergast is enjoying every bit of Ardmore’s glorious run of 2017.
When he and his team-mates make the journey from West Waterford to Mallow on Sunday, Seamus will renew an old rivalry, as 37-year-old ex-Waterford star Prendergast looks to put one over on Brendan Cummins, the long-time net-minder of Tipperary.
Ardmore are strong favourites, and there might be a certain pressure on the four-time Munster title winner to deliver given his top-level experience.
“I wouldn’t really, not at this stage of my life anyway,” smiles Prendergast. “It’s just enjoyable to still be playing and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s a bit more localised pressure and you’re expected to do a bit more for your club. With the county, there’s 15 good fellas around, whereas with the club there’s probably four or five good fellas and the rest might not be at county level. There’s a little bit of pressure but we’ve a good group so I don’t feel any pressure at the moment.”
Not that Ardmore don’t have plenty of quality players among their ranks. Junior though they may be, the team is still pockmarked with talent.
“There’s a few with the (county) experience. Myself and Declan played (for Waterford), Niall and Wayne Hennessy played football for Waterford which is inter-county experience, and Seamus Keating is with Waterford the last two years. David Gartland was on the Under-21 panel that won the All-Ireland, so there’s a good few lads. Other lads have played on and off at different times.”
Ballybacon-Grange won a first ever adult title in 2017, and followed it up with an impressive win over St Catherine’s of Cork.
At the top level, teams will analyse the opposition to a minute level. But these management teams don’t quite get access to the same level of footage.
“No we get nothing, well I didn’t see it anyway,” says Prendergast. “I think management had someone watching the last day as a precaution if we did win, just to see them.
“I think Ballybacon were to play a league match last week but it was called off. In a junior match, anything can happen.
“Someone can pop up who didn’t play well before, and someone can pop up to get a score which will make a difference. We’ll have to be at our best.
“Beating a Cork team is a fair achievement. Cork teams normally do well in this.”
Prendergast retired from inter-county of his own accord at the end of 2014, in what was the first year of Derek McGrath’s tenure.
They suffered some heavy losses that season, and it led to the manager removing a number of veterans and bringing in a new style of play.
The Déise reached All-Ireland semi-finals in 2015 and 2016, before just being edged out by Galway in this year’s September decider.
“Ah look, your time comes,” Prendergast reflects. “It’s enjoyable watching them, I was in the stand up here roaring them on in the All-Ireland final hoping they’d win it.
“It’s just disappointing that we can’t get over the line and win it. There’s a good bunch of lads and they’re putting in a huge effort, so it would be great if they got their reward.
“2008 was a killer blow for us, after trying for so long to get there, and to then be beaten out the gate,” he says of the Kilkenny final.
“It obviously didn’t do anything to those young fellas watching us on the sideline who were only in their mid-teens coming up watching us, they are the lads playing now. It didn’t knock their confidence.
“Yeah, sure it was part of my life for 14 years, everything I did was for Waterford,” he says of the difficulty of walking away.
“Watching the lads for the first year was hard, and they won the league and you’d be saying ‘Jesus it would be great to have won another medal. But when you think of the time and commitment you gave it, you wonder how did find the time. Now I’ve time for the family and hobbies and that, so you’d find it hard to know how you did find the time.”