The Mayo Ladies seniors get their National Football League campaign up and running on Saturday evening, when they take on Galway in MacHale Park at 7.30pm.
Michael Moyles and his management team have taken over the reins of the side this year and the Crossmolina native is itching to get back out on the field.
"It’s great to be back, especially compared to Zoom meetings and computers, you can see the players, they were like Spring lambs when they got out.
"It is trying to tie them down to be careful about injuries and things like that in the first two or three sessions, but they are really enjoying it. They are just a great group. I suppose everybody is going to be very busy over the next few weeks with the amount of games, but we were starved of it for long enough and now we’ll be immersed in it, but I’ll take the immersion over the starvation any day, we are delighted."
Like all teams it has been a quickfire run to the start of the league and he's hoping that they can hit the ground running and reverse a losing trend against Mayo's southern neighbours.
Speaking last week to the Mayo Advertiser, he said: "Since we have gone back, we had nine (training sessions ), three of those were just about prepping for a right session, the preparation going into a league against Galway, a massive team, is not ideal. But everybody is in the same boat, Galway is under new management - they have a style of play that we have really struggled with.
"If you look over the (last ) six of seven years we have won three games out of 13, that’s a 25 per cent turn back, which, over a two horse race, is not enough. So for us, it is about looking at turning some of those things around, bit-by-bit and working on our kick-outs or pressing their kick-outs, small wins.
“If a result comes our way doing that, then brilliant, we’ll take that all day long, but again we are looking at those small little margins that we can start to change and we can start to turn around a little bit."
Small steps to the desired goal
Moyles and his management team are working towards getting their side to play a slightly different brand of football, one that they hope will be successful, but that will take time to work itself out.
"We are aware the way we have been training is a little bit different - the girls have had to adapt to that. We use an awful lot of football, we have Terry (Kennedy ) in there, who is very good with defences and attacking and working in twos and threes, with the basketball aspect, but it works very well with the football as well. I feel and the girls are loving that bit of training.
"It is different every time they train. We are asking them to use their heads probably more than their legs a small bit, but in that, you are getting your lungs filled up - because there is very little rest time in the hour and twenty minutes that we are there, between the drills and the specialising in certain areas.
"That’s the way we feel it has to go, other people have different opinions on it, but we have been getting good feedback from the players and they seem to be asking more questions now. They were very quiet when we came first.
"There is a new group there and we were trying to get to know them as much as they were trying to get to know each other. They are a great group."
Coming back into the fold
This season has seen a number of players come back into the fold who left during Peter Leahy's tenure in the job. Carnacon's Fiona McHale is one of the big names back who sat out the last few years. When asked did she just fit right back in to the set-up, Moyles said: "To be fair to Fiona and the girls coming in, it took the girls coming in, but it also took the girls that were there. There is a lot of things going on there and undercurrents going on there, but everybody is just focused on Mayo, which is brilliant.
"The transition has been fairly smooth, there has been no great speeches or people coming in to make sure everything is alright. The girls have just focused on what they are there for and that is for Mayo and football.
"I suppose with training sessions, we don’t have much time to be thinking about anything else because it’s football and it is getting them to think about what happens if this goes and drills, and things like that, but they have been brilliant - all - both girls that have come in and girls that have been there.
"Because we have leaders that have been there for the last three years and carried the can and we have leaders that came in and want to help out. It is just about Mayo and that’s the way it is, there are no personalities involved and we are lucky to be able to enjoy and have them - eight, nine ten great leaders there and young girls that are listening to these leaders; it can only enhance ladies football."
Back from down under
Mayo will be welcoming back a number of players who were in Australia playing in the WAFL over the Winter, but just Niamh Kelly is expected to be fit and ready to go this weekend, with Grace Kelly nursing an injury and Sarah Rowe also recovering from a knock and still out of the country.
One player who also starred down under but will not be togging out this year for Mayo is Aileen Gilroy, who hasn't been able to commit to the side, Moyles said. "We have been ongoing with Aileen over the course of when she was in Australia, something she struggled with over the last couple of years, but personally she is living in Wexford and found it difficult coming back from Australia to commit and that is fine.
"All over the country in men's and women’s it doesn’t sit well for the year that is in it and it doesn’t this year with her. We tried to accommodate her as best we can, but she made the decision she couldn’t commit and that’s one player.
"She can’t commit to what is needed for inter-county, with the short turnaround year, we have had the discussion with her over numerous times, we gave her ample opportunity to think about it.
"Even when she came home - and myself and Aileen have been friends for a long time before football and I know she would have loved to do it - but if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Aileen is not one to half arse anything - it is just the last year or two she’s struggled with it and just needs to take a year to get things right and that’s fine, no problem."
Moyles also said that Rachel Kearns is on board for the season, despite her soccer involvement with Galway United in the Women's National League and that he is delighted to have her on board.
Mayo will face Galway at 7.30pm on Saturday, May 22 with throw-in at 7.30pm and the game is live on TG4