After getting relegated from the Christy Ring Cup for the first time, getting Mayo back up to that competition as soon as possible was the number one objective for the management team. In looking to achieve that goal, JP Coen and his management team looked south of the border and asked former Galway hurling captain Liam Donoghue to get on board as a coach and the Clarinbridge man duly accepted their invitation.
Having won a club All Ireland with his home club, a national league with Galway, and appearing in the 2005 All Ireland senior final, he has a wealth of experience at the top reaches of the game to the Mayo set up. We asked Mayo manager JP Coen and two of the side's players what Donoghue has brought to the side this year.
Coen told us he "has made a huge difference, Liam with his voice in the room and his coaching ability on the pitch is very good. He has blended in perfectly with the lads. It's great, he talks a lot of sense when we're picking teams, he has helped a lot in setting our direction and where we should be going. But he'll also step back a bit and agrees when we're picking a team.
"Derek Walsh is very focused and direct and knows what he wants, himself and Liam work hand in hand, it's great and they both know exactly what they want to see and it's a big help."
Team captain Brian Hunt said, "Coming from Galway he knows he standards that need to be set to reach these levels, he's a sharp guy and he's not afraid to tell you what you're not doing right and will pull you aside and let you know. He'll also give you plenty of tips throughout the year.
Ace marksman Kenny Feeney told the Mayo Advertiser, "You're looking at Liam there and he has won club All Ireland, been with Galway teams in All Ireland finals, he's got great knowledge, he knows what it takes to win, he'll do anything to win, he'll put you through anything to win. He doesn't have favourities or soft spots for anyone, he's ruthless and just wants you to work hard and do the simple things right, and that's what he's been drilling into us all year. We just needed a fresh voice and fresh face, I suppose when he came down first he got a bit of a shock because he might not have realised the skill level that we had, but he has just brought it to a new level, lads are striking the ball better than ever, their first touch is better than ever, so when you see him and he tells you what the likes of Clarinbridge or the Galway senior hurlers were doing to get to All Ireland finals, you just see what he has there to tell you."