Jake Prendergast is pictured after his Ireland U-15 appearance against Poland with Mum Aisling, Sister Amber and Dad Jayme
THIS week I spoke to a young man who saw a footballing dream come true recently when he donned the famous green jersey of Ireland against Poland and reached the pinnacle of schoolboy football in this country.
At fourteen years of age Jake Prendergast has won nine local league titles, six local cups, three player of the year awards, two player of the tournament awards.
This week Jake said: “Playing with Ireland has been my main goal in football since I began playing the game, so to put on the Irish jersey and stand beside my team mates while the national anthem was being played with all my family there to watch me was really an unbelievable feeling.”
As I sat with Jake and his proud Dad Jayme we chatted about the local youngsters achievements so far, his hopes and dreams for the future and who has influenced him to want to be the best player he possibly can.
It is obvious from Jake's trophy cabinet that even at such a tender age he has dominated the local scene for quite some time.
Two leagues and one cup in the black and white of Janesboro FC was followed by four league titles and four cups with Pike Rovers and a further league title with Fairview Rgs before Jake signed for the baby blues of Limerick FC.
That move brought further success in the shape of another two league titles and one more local cup success.
During this period Jake says that club coaches John Kinsella (Boro) James Doran (Pike) and Ger and Shane Costelloe (Limerick FC) all had a big influence on him, giving him a good grounding in the game and nurturing hes enjoyment in playing.
The next step on Jake's pathway to international football was he’s introduction to the FAI Emerging Talent programme where working under James Scott and myself he was among the best players in the North Munster region.
This cocoon really ignited his progression and led to Jake being identified as having the potential to play on the international stage and numerous trips to Dublin followed as his progress was assessed continuously.
“Last year was my toughest so far,” details the youngster.
“I trained four to five evenings every week, Limerick FC national league sessions, FAI Emerging Talent sessions as well as national assessment and Kennedy Cup training, but it was all part of what happened last week, when I pulled on the Irish jersey. So, tough or not, I now know the amount of work that is required if I want to have a career in football”.
Being coached by former Chelsea star and Ireland international Damien Duff and also Republic Of Ireland U15 manager Jason Donoghue is also something Jake wants more of.
“The sessions with the Irish squad have such a high tempo and both coaches really expect high standards which brings out the best in us,” continued Jake, who dreams of one day following in the footsteps of many other Irish internationals and pulling on the famous red jersey of Manchester United.
“My Dad has shown me clips of the battles between Roy Keane and Patrick Viera in the old Utd versus Arsenal games," added Jake, whose favourite current Utd player is Nemanja Matic.
“I'd love to play at Old Trafford but only after playing in the Markets Field for Limerick in the League of Ireland,” smiled Jake.
Jake's Dad Jayme spoke of the unpredictable world of football and added
“Jake's studies and school work will always come first as football careers, we see every week, can be cut short by injury or outside influences. I couldn’t be prouder of Jake, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country to watch him play football since he was able to walk but watching him as he came out of the tunnel to play against Poland last week was a moment we will never forget.
"He is a good kid and has the backing of a good family, he knows that he has a lot to learn but he is still young and the fact that he is healthy and happy is the most important thing to us”.
Jake played this season as an integral part of Limerick FCs national league u15 side who narrowly missed out on league honours and will continue under the watchful eye of Tommy Barrett and Neil McDonald in the Superblues academy next season while all in the local football family wish him well and are very proud of our latest international footballer.