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A ruptured quad injury ruined two seasons, now Waterford's vice-captain aims to make impact

Conor Prunty will be second in command for the Waterford senior hurlers in 2020.

SUNDAY NIGHT BROUGHT the official approval of Conor Prunty’s growing statue in the Waterford hurling setup, installation as vice-captain for 2020.

seamus-callanan-and-conor-prunty Conor Prunty in action for Waterford against Tipperary last June. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He will be second in command to the team’s newly-appointed leader Pauric Mahony. With a change in manager as well, the new season smacks of a fresh approach for Waterford.

That is in keeping with Prunty’s own outlook. In a forgettable 2019 campaign for the collective, the Abbeyside-Ballinacourty man was able to wring some personal satisfaction out of a sequence of starts in the Waterford rearguard.

Injury had wrecked his opening two years as a county senior player, the trouble starting in a pre-season fixture in January 2017.

“It was my quad that I ruptured, it’s called the rec fem. It set me out for 16 weeks in the first year and roughly eight in the second year. So it was a bit of an issue. I’d never really been injured before, I’d never broken anything.

“Then it just went in a Munster league game in January against Limerick the first year. I just turned for a ball, went to sprint and felt the pop. Initially, have no experience of tears, I tried to run on and I knew that it wasn’t right so I had to go down and that was it.

“The 16 weeks was something new to me, being on your own training away with the rehab, kind of watching lads train, it’s a different thing. That was the start of the year of the All-Ireland (final). I played an U21 game against Cork in June or July that year, that was probably my main aim to get back for that.”

He was a peripheral figure then as Waterford journeyed all the way to the Liam MacCarthy Cup showpiece in 2017 and injury flared again to stall his progress the following year.

Waterford’s championship results have made for grim reading since the Munster round-robin format was ushered, seven losses and one draw to date.

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Co-Op Raheen Small 5-12-19-88 Waterford Conor Prunty (left) at the Co-Op Superstores Munster hurling league launch. Source: PETER PIETRZAK PETER.P.PHOTOS@GMAIL.COM

“When you’re putting so much into it, the way we have the last two years, it is disappointing,” admits Prunty, an All-Ireland U21 winner with Waterford in 2016.

“It does round you a bit more. You’re sick of that feeling, sick of losing. So it’s something in the back that’s driving us for this year.

“It is frustrating when you’re watching on. Ultimately that’s what we want this year to be still in championship in June, July and August when it matters.

“Going from the last two years, looking in from the outside, we’re at the bottom of that pile, we’re in the chasing pack.”

They’ll have a Tipperary influence guiding them now with Liam Cahill managing alongside highly-rated coach Michael Bevans.

29 December is their opening run out in the Co-Op Superstores Munster hurling league against Cork in the Fraher Field.

“He (Liam Cahill) would have been over a lot of the Tipp teams that I would have played against underage, so minor and U21 in challenge matches and stuff,” says Prunty.

“I’d have come across him on the line and I’ve seen what he’s done with Tipperary. For the older lads maybe they hadn’t seen him face to face or anything but for the younger lads that are there we’ve come across him and played against him.

“Training has been good so far with Mikey, happy enough. He’s hands on, in fairness he gets around to everyone. He’s talking to everyone, see how they are, how they’re feeling, how’s training going and stuff.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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