The last few months have been special for Dicksboro clubwoman Aoife Prendergast.
She captained her club side to a famous county championship victory against Piltown in November and led the town club to an historic Leinster final.
To add to her recent club success, Prendergast was bestowed with the honour of being handed the Kilkenny captaincy during the week as a result of her club achievements.
With a Leinster championship final to look forward to later this month followed by the beginning of her role as Kilkenny captain when the league resumes, 2022 promises to be both a busy and memorable year for the camogie star.
Speaking to KCLR’s Scoreline on Saturday, Prendergast commented on what it means to captain her county.
She said: “It’s a great honour to play for Kilkenny let alone captain the county so it’s absolutely incredible for myself and the club.
“Brian contacted me the other day and obviously I was over the moon. I’m delighted to be representing the club and I’m looking forward to the year ahead.”
Prendergast knows that she could become a member of a select group of players from Noreside who have lifted the O’Duffy Cup when the 2022 intercounty camogie season is completed.
She admitted that the possibility of leading Kilkenny to All-Ireland glory will act as a motivational tool in the weeks and months to come.
“It definitely gives me an extra bit of motivation when it comes to my own individual goals. But ultimately, we are a team at the end of the day,” Prendergast said.
“The main aim is to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand as a team but of course I would love to do it this year as the captain.”
The new captain also called on the entire panel to take on leadership responsibilities as Brian Dowling’s side look to bounce back from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to old rivals Cork.
She said: “As you’re coming up through the ranks, we all look up to the senior players. It’s up to the older players to take that bit of leadership on board.
“It’s also up to the younger players coming in to be leaders in their own right and take the team forward. We have a great unity so it’s not difficult to be a part of this Kilkenny panel.”
There was to be no diplomatic answer when asked about the team’s goals for the year ahead. It is all about reclaiming the O’Duffy Cup on All-Ireland final day.
“We want to be in Croke Park on All-Ireland day and lift the O’Duffy Cup. We were delighted to win the league last year but the All-Ireland is the ultimate aim.
“Hopefully, we can bottle up that disappointment from last year and come together to replicate the success of 2020. That’s what everyone wants to achieve, and we certainly have the players to win it.”
Brian Dowling has remained in charge of the team for a third consecutive year despite there being much speculation surrounding his future at the end of 2021.
The Dicksboro player was hugely complimentary of the management team that Dowling has put in place and believes that they will be key if Kilkenny are to become champions for the second time in three years.
“There’s a great bond within the Kilkenny camp. The coaches are a very special management group and anything we ask for they do for us.
“That’s all you can ask for and we know that we are so lucky to have Brian with us. It gives us the best opportunity to be successful and hopefully we can keep driving on as a team and be successful again this year.”
Prendergast was the captain of Dicksboro in November when they defeated Piltown by 0-15 to 2-08 in a dramatic county final.
The 25-year-old heralded the addition of young players into the squad, something that proved crucial in a final that went right down to the wire.
“It’s hard to put into words but it was a great feeling. We are a really young team. I’m the third oldest but the youth coming through drove us on so much and helped us get over the line.
“For myself, it was a dream come true to lift that cup for my club in front of the management, players and all of the supporters. It was so special.”
She added: “Winning by a single point really adds to the occasion.
“When that final whistle went it was that bit more special because Piltown are such a great team and it was a really great day for the club. When you win by a point you know that you have earned it so I have to say that that win was amazing.”