If you were following hurling a decade or so you probably identified Ardmore with a couple of the main pillars of that glamorous Waterford team of the noughties.
Seamus Prendergast’s power and drive made him an essential cog in the Waterford attacking machine, while his brother Declan wore a variety of jerseys in defence, serving at wing-back and full-back.
Clearly, they’re the significant leaders on the Ardmore side which faces Setanta of Donegal in the All-Ireland JHC semi-final on Sunday in Navan (2pm). At least, they would be if Declan Prendergast didn’t contradict you by stressing the experience spread across his club team.
“Don’t forget, we have Seamus Keating on the Waterford senior hurling panel, James Flavin on the minor team, Kenny Murphy is around the Waterford senior football team.
“Richie, Wayne and Niall Hennessy have all played senior intercounty football, too, so there’s plenty of experience there, certainly, and the younger lads are cool out too, nothing fazes them.”
It’s been a long road for Ardmore, who began training for their own county championship 12 months ago.
“We took a few weeks off after the Munster final,” says Prendergast. “Christmas is family time so we enjoyed that time off. It was a nice break, because we needed to get away from it for a while. We did a night or two over the Christmas, so by the time we came back there a couple of weeks ago, fellas were bulling for it altogether, the appetite was well and truly back.
“We’re fine in terms of injuries. Kenny Murphy was away in Australia for a couple of weeks, but was due back a couple of days ago, he was the only one missing.”
Ardmore overcame Ballybacon-Grange in the Munster final before Christmas. The victors had three players put off in a game that wasn’t as dirty as that suggests, but they never looked in trouble.
“It was an unusual game, having our goalkeeper being sent off on the stroke of half-time — just when Ballybacon got a goal — maybe suggested to them they were flying, that they’d have it easy in the second half, but as soon as we weathered the storm early on in the second half, we were grand. We hit two goals in a couple of minutes, then, and we were cruising after that.”
There’s a good blend of ages throughout the side now. They’ll need them all to stand up on Sunday.
“There’s a bit of a gap between the oldest and the youngest. We don’t have many between the two extremes. We had a few lean years, but we have some good youngsters coming through now, which is encouraging. When we did go back down to junior a couple of years ago, some of the younger lads thought they might get more game time; everyone’s gotten enough game time now to keep them going.
“Sunday is probably going to be one of our toughest games, because we don’t know anything at all about Setanta. Northern hurling is always tough, no matter who you’re playing, so we’re expecting a real battle. Whatever people might think about Waterford having more of a hurling tradition than Donegal, they’re still the Ulster champions, they got to this stage of the competition on merit.
“They obviously see the chance of getting to an All-Ireland final as well, it’s not just an opportunity for us. They have nothing to lose, because the expectation is probably all on us. We’ve prepared well and we’re hoping we can put together the performance which will get us over the semi-final, so that the club can have a day out in Croke Park. That would be fantastic.”