Waterford hurling supporters won’t be too keen to recall the 2019 season, but even in a disappointing year there were highlights.
One was the emergence of Conor Prunty as a powerful defender, contributing to the Waterford rearguard in some trying circumstances.
The big man from Abbeyside is looking forward to tomorrow’s outing against Cork (Fraher Field, 2pm) in the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League.
“Training’s been going very well, they’re testing us out and keeping us on our toes.
"Physically we’re being put through the hard yards, like every other team at this time of the year, and because they (management) don’t know what they have they probably want to see what they have in us.
“The toughest part? Hopping into the car after the session to go home because you’re so tired. The running — you just get through it, pushing on through the session.
"Mikey Bevans handles the sessions, (selector) Stephen Molumphy, Joey O’Brien of WIT and Tommy Ryan are also in on the strength and conditioning side.”
Waterford have a new manager, of course — what’s Prunty’s impression of Liam Cahill?
“He’s very positive,” says Prunty. “It’s early days yet but he has everyone driving on to improve this year, certainly.
"When he met us first he stressed that he thought there was talent there, that there’s something in us — that we just have to believe in ourselves and if we work hard and trust him then hopefully it’ll show in the results next year.
“I suppose it’s no different to any other team, that every other team is training hard at this time of the year, so it’s about applying yourself.”
Prunty and his teammates are keen to make amends for last year’s disappointment: Definitely.
"You certainly don’t want to feel like that again coming off the field. We’re just trying to improve for next year.
"For me, I found it frantic enough. You’re on edge for most of it — you can’t switch off because your’e on edge until the final whistle.
"It’s different in that regard — that and the physicality. The speed is part of it too, but also the tackling by forwards.
"When you’re on the ball as a back the forwards are all hungry for work, all mad for a turnover, so that’s another challenge.
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"All the forwards I came across had something different to challenge you with — Patrick Horgan was probably the toughest, his skill levels are unbelievable.”
One advantage Prunty had was working in Cork, away from the focus in his home county.
After last year, he should be more comfortable in 2020, surely?
“I was based above in Cork so it was handy — I could just come down, train and head back to Cork.
"Nobody talking to me — if you were one of the lads going out and about in Dungarvan or Waterford, everyone asking how the game was going to... that’d be a bit more difficult alright.
"I don’t know about getting comfortable at that level because I think if you feel comfortable you could become complacent, you mightn’t be learning.
"You have to be improving the whole time or you’ll be caught.”