Hurling & Camogie

Tim Prenter enjoying life with Down despite strong Antrim connections

Ballygalget ace hopes Ardsmen can bounce back from Kerry defeat in Westmeath showdown

Ballygalget's Tim Prenter has been in impressive form for Down this year. Picture by Philip Walsh
Ballygalget's Tim Prenter has been in impressive form for Down this year. Picture by Philip Walsh

TIM Prenter’s journey to the red and black of Down is an odd one.

For a start, all his hurling has been played on the Ards peninsula - he even sounds as though he is from the Ards - yet his whole life has been spent on the other side of Strangford Lough in Downpatrick.

Football was Prenter’s first love until, in his early teens, a few school-mates at the Red High suggested coming over to training with Ballygalget. It wasn’t a completely alien experience.

“I knew a couple of fellas from school and from football, a couple of them played for Saul, then my mum would’ve known the likes of Paul Coulter through work.

“We always would’ve hurled around the house, my da being an Antrim man...”

Therein lies the next part of the story, and the 23-year-old’s connection to Down’s feted neighbours.

Dad Ciaran played for north Belfast dual club St Enda’s, featuring a few times for the Antrim footballers, while his uncle Eamonn is stepped in Saffron – winning an Ulster minor title with the county in 1982, playing in the Ulster SFC as a schoolboy before later becoming a selector under Brian White’s watch, as well as chairman of Club Antrim.

Another uncle, Brendan, played in nets for the Antrim hurlers during the ‘90s, including in the 1994 All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick. Prior to the emergence of Joe Maskey, he was the only St Enda’s clubman who had made the senior county grade.

Indeed, Brendan was still between the sticks in 2014, helping Creggan to the All-Ireland junior club championship crown at the age of 47.

Involved with St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass these days, it is his daughter Orlaith grabbing the spotlight. The sharpshooter was in stunning form with the Antrim footballers last year, starring as the Saffrons landed the Ulster intermediate title for the first time in the county’s history – with Prenter bagging 1-8 in a 2-18 to 1-13 victory over Tyrone.

Orlaith Prenter bagged 1-8 as Antrim beat Tyrone to win their maiden Ulster intermediate football title
Orlaith Prenter has become a force to be reckoned with for Antrim

Despite those connections, however, her cousin’s ambitions only ever lay with Down.

Indeed, during recent years Tim has dipped between the county football and hurling set-ups, having impressed in the green and white hoops of RGU as well as the emerald of Ballygalget.

Yet, while he will play football with Downpatrick this year having missed out on their last campaign, his full focus – at county level at least – is on the small ball, and helping the Ardsmen deliver in the Joe McDonagh Cup.

“I’m more interested in hurling now. I’ve really thrown myself into it and I’m enjoying it a lot more...”

An opening win over Meath got Ronan Sheehan’s side off to the perfect start, only for Down to return empty-handed from their trip to Tralee last weekend as Kerry wound up eight point winners.

“We were disappointed coming back up the road,” said Prenter.

“We went down and played alright for 35 minutes and then in the second half we just sort of collapsed... it got away from us, we couldn’t seem to get on the ball or anything , then they managed to hit eight points unanswered which we wouldn’t be too happy about.”

It doesn’t get any easier on Saturday.

Although that opening victory over the Royals was significant in terms of their ambitions to avoid the drop down to Christy Ring level, the next three games pit Down against the top sides in the competition – Westmeath this weekend, then Laois and Offaly.

Prenter was just coming back from injury when the Ardsmen came up short against Westmeath in the 2022 Division 2A decider in Thurles, and is looking forward to locking horns with the Lake County at McKenna Park.

“These are the games we want to playing - we want to try and push on to that next level.

“The next three games we have are against the three big favourites for the competition, they’re the higher end at this level where we’re in the middle trying to push up to the top.

“From where we’ve come from we would be happy enough to stay in the Joe McDonagh, but we want to be pushing on to try and compete to win it. If we can get some points out of the next three games, who knows what can happen?

“We know we’re not a million miles away, we just need to cut out our mistakes and stop inviting other teams on, especially in the last 10 minutes of games.

“You can’t afford to switch off at all, and that’ll be the same on Saturday.”