‘THEY’LL have to ask me to leave!’ he laughs, borrowing the words of another teammate – but Bandon dual goalkeeper Pat Prendergast has no intention of hanging up his gloves anytime soon.
You would think at 36 years of age that Prendergast is entering the twilight of his club career, but he has other ideas.
He’s just after the season of his life between the posts for Bandon’s hurlers and footballers, who both won county titles.
He captained the Bandon footballers to the Cork intermediate crown, a step on from last year’s Cork JAFC title triumph, and after being drafted back into the hurling team – the usual number one and sub goalkeepers were unavailable for different reasons – he played his role as Bandon won the Cork PIHC title to guarantee senior hurling in 2017.
And Prendergast, a Garda based in Macroom, will be ready to line out again.
‘I have never thought about retiring at all, never,’ he said, after he accepted the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star of the Month award for October recently.
‘People say it to me messing, asking me when I’m hanging up my boots, and I have the same reply to all of them: my father stopped playing rugby when he was 45 and that’s my goal! I’m only half-joking.
‘Alan Johnson was asked the same question before and he said, “They’ll have to ask me to leave!” It was a great way of putting it.
‘I’m lucky enough being a goalkeeper, I don’t need to rely on the legs as much as the fellas out the field so I’ve a few more years left in me yet.
‘To be honest, I am dreading the day when it’s all over.
‘It’s a privilege for me to play for my club and my town, and I want to play at as high a level as I can for as long as I can. I don’t want this to end.’
Turning 37 next August, it’s no secret he is among the elder statesmen in the dressing-room but this experience, and knowing the finishing line is around a corner somewhere up the road, makes him celebrate the good times more than most.
‘I have been there in the bad times when things have gone very bad for us, especially in hurling, and now I see the other side of it and both teams going well,’ he said.
‘I appreciate going training, the matches, the craic, because you never know when your last game will be.
‘When I was in my twenties I thought I would be winning silverware every year but it doesn’t work out like that, so I appreciate it even more.’
Looking back on an amazing season for Bandon, Prendergast admits that you couldn’t write a year like it, and while the players are the heroes, he feels the management teams of the hurling and football set-ups have been the main ingredients this season.
‘The key is the management getting on and setting out a structure that works for both codes,’ he explained.
‘Other years if the management doesn’t get on as well, then things don’t work out as well. This year from the start the lads worked well together, there’s a mutual respect between Niall (O’Halloran, hurling) and Colm (Aherne, football), they were willing to give and take.
When the players aren’t being pulled and dragged and don’t fell pressurised to choose one over the other, it creates a far better environment and gives you every chance of success.’
And now the Bandon man who felt his top-level hurling days were behind him before year has senior hurling to prepare for in 2017.