SIXTY ONE YEARS ago the great Paddy Prendergast wrote himself into footballing folklore as part of Mayo’s double All-Ireland winning squad of 1950 and 1951.
Now one of the new generation has a chance to be a part of the next chapter in the clan’s Sam Maguire story.
On Sunday Tom, nephew of the legendary full-back, will be on the Croke Park sidelines as one of the key men in James Horan’s backroom team. He can see echoes of his uncle’s great Mayo sides in this current crop of county stars.
Prendergast says: “I think it’s interesting about those guys from ’50 and ’51, from my uncle, it is one thing that has struck me that they were highly a intelligent and motivated bunch of guys who achieved a lot in life.
A lot of them came from humble backgrounds but they had great confidence and self assurance.
It hasn’t always been associated with Mayo I suppose but there are signs of it in this team and we’ve shown that by the way we’ve played on many occasions.
With the spectre of near misses still hanging over the county, Prendergast knows that confidence is the foundation of any winning performance.
His job as selector along with trainer Cian O’Neill and James Nallen is to help manager James Horan transmit those positive messages through the panel, he explains.
“The message we’ll be imparting this week will be the culmination of everything we have done from January right through. From that point of view we’re not suddenly reinventing something or changing anything. The messages we were imparting before the first FBD game in January won’t be a million miles away from what we’re doing in the build up to Donegal.”
Working from the sidelines though, he’s reluctant to give himself too much credit in the narrative of Mayo’s success. When the word “empowerment” is used to describe his function, he shies away.
I wouldn’t use a word as strong as that but it’s trying to make sure things are in place to make sure the players are as confident as they can be.
He adds: “That would be to put far too much emphasis on what we do and not nearly enough on what the players do. I think David Clarke said it well when he said our role is to create the environment where the players can flourish and thrive. The players are driving this forward.
“I take immense satisfaction from it but it’s not like I’m responsible or James is. When Kevin McLoughlin or Alan Dillon does something fantastic on the pitch, that’s them not us. That’s their work coming through.”