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'It'd probably mean more than any Munster medal I ever won with Waterford'

Seamus Prendergast and Ardmore are seeking Munster club junior hurling glory on Sunday.

HE NEVER WON an All-Ireland medal with Waterford, but Seamus Prendergast achieved plenty in his 12-year inter-county career.

AIB Leinster GAA Hurling Club Championship Finals Media Day Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

A four-time Munster medalist with the Deise, he played alongside some hurling royalty on the swashbuckling Waterford team of the last decade.

He can count Ken McGrath, Tony Browne, Dan Shanahan, John Mullane, Paul Flynn and Eoin Kelly among the stand-out teammates during his 58 championship appearances.

But as is often the case with sport, it can bring you on a thrilling ride when you least expect it. At 37 years-old, Prendergast feels he is on his most exhilarating journey yet.

On Sunday, his club Ardmore face Tipperary’s Ballybacon-Grange in the Munster club JHC final. He feels winning a provincial club medal would be right up there with the rest of his achievements on the playing field.

“It was an enjoyable time,” Prendergast says about his Deise career. ”I would never have done it if I didn’t like doing it. We had great days, we had four Munster medals, a National League. We played in an All-Ireland final. It didn’t go our way, but there was probably other occasions when we should have made it again.

Seamus Prendergast reacts to a missed chance Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I played with a great bunch of lads. Times were good, there was plenty of money and big crowds. There was some great memories there.

“It’d probably mean more than any Munster medal I ever won with Waterford. It’s like, I’ve been playing with Declan, my brother, and the other older lads, Cathal (Hennessy), Wayne (Hennessy), and Richie (Hennessy) since I was five. You can’t beat that, I’m playing with them 30 years or whatever.You’ll never beat that with a county team.

“The bunting is gone up. There’s signs up. The schools are excited, they’re all buying their gear. There’s parents who wouldn’t be GAA people, they’re bringing their kids. That should do well for the future. There’s a real buzz.

“It’ll keep the thing going, anyway. We’ve a couple of minors to come onto the panel next year, they’re decent enough hurlers, committed lads so if this run gets a few more like that, it’ll be great for the club.”

Once he stepped away from the inter-county scene three years ago, Prendergast grew to enjoy the extra time just playing club hurling afforded him.

“I missed it, the first year that I retired,” he says. ”It was hard enough to watch. I don’t miss it now. When you see how much time you put into it, you wouldn’t realise how much time you’ve given up, after work or weekends and stuff like that. It’s a huge commitment, now.

“I really enjoy still playing with the club. There’s a lot less pressure on you, now. You can go out and enjoy the game and train. There’s not the same level of pressure or commitment on you.

“For the older lads, if you get to, let’s say two out of the three sessions in the week, then they’ll be happy with you, once you’re in decent shape. When you’re winning, it makes it a lot easier as well.”

AIB Leinster GAA Hurling Club Championship Finals Media Day Seamus Prendergast ahead of the AIB GAA Munster junior hurling club championship final on Sunday. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

It’s been a tricky few years for Ardmore, who lifted the Waterford intermediate title in 2013 before enduring relegations in 2014 and 2016.

Finally they are back to winning ways and they’ll compete in Waterford’s second tier next season.

“We had a meeting in November last year,” said Prendergast. “It was the first time ever the club picked the manager well before the AGM, and he organised us with strength and conditioning training in the local hall.

“He started us off, in November last year, with push-ups, sit-ups and the usual, simple enough stuff. We all bought into that, that got us started.

“It was a good push by the young lads, maybe they saw that we had a good chance of winning something at the start of the year.

“Tommy Cronin is the manager. He’s the local Fianna Fáil councillor, so he’s really stuck in the community.

“He went off then and got Wayne Power who was a coach when Waterford won the minor hurling a few years ago. He’s a good coach and he’s only in his 30s.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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