"It's basically what inter-county was like a couple of years ago. That's down to Corofin."
Eoin Finnerty had the easiest training session of his life on Tuesday.
The trip seemed shorter, the night seemed brighter and, with last Sunday's memories still dancing in the air, he walked in on a dressing room full of smiling faces. Sunday's game. Monday's session. It was a cold November night in the west of Ireland but he didn't want to be anywhere else.
There are further honours and glories to chase down and this Mountbellew-Moylough team are well good enough to win them but make no mistake about it, this is bonus territory now.
A county senior medal was so elusive for this Galway parish that, for 35 years, it evaded every single one of its inhabitants. Now Finnerty is one of the men that crossed the threshold, even better, he was the captain of the team that made history.
"The dressing-room beforehand, the laughing that went on over the last couple of days. Just the buzz of having a county medal in your pocket going training. It was special," he says at the launch of the AIB provincial championships.
"We did a tour of the parish. There were people in the parish I didn't even know existed out with fires. Even in the neighbouring parish, we came through Abbey, they had fires out for us. Just past Killererin, they had fires out for us. It's something we'll never see again. If we win another again there won't be this euphoria of the first time for so long. It's amazing."
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) November 16, 2021
A 35 year wait is a long wait and though for ages it seemed like the famine might never end, it was a part of this team's destiny. Go back to 2014 and to say that their minor championship winning team was a good one would be an understatement. Ten of those same players were starting in Sunday's defeat of Corofin and 16 of them were on the panel. They had their setbacks and harsh lessons along the way but that was a part of growing up and it was their journey from boys to men.
Boys to men
'There's a big difference between a team of 21 to 18-year-olds and a team of 25 to 21 year olds," says Finnerty.
He remarked in his post-match interview on TG4 that they were stronger mentally now, but after years and years of hard-work, they were stronger physically too. He credits Corofin for pushing them to such levels, and contends that, in the last few years, the commitment of senior club players has increased tenfold. That was as evident as ever before in Saturday's game.
"There's a lot of work that goes in and it all adds up. You see the last day some of the shape some of our lads are in has just grown.
"In Galway that's definitely down to Corofin. I remember when I first came along, I played my first senior game in 2013, the set-up back then compared to now... it's basically now what inter-county was like a couple of years ago.
"You have to do everything. A nutritionist, S&C coach, you do your recovery, you're getting all this information. Fair play to Corofin, they were ahead of the trend, and that's why they obliterated everyone in Galway through the last seven or eight years and won three All-Irelands in a row.
"I suppose you're only going to get better when you have more maturity and experience. We've been there so many times and seen all the situations that probably could happen in Galway senior football. I think that's what got us over the line."
Finnerty was one of the captains but Val Daly was the man steering this ship. Finnerty can't thank him enough because without meaning to exaggerate, the man has taught him all he knows.
"Underage coaching is crucial and he basically taught us how to play football from U-10 all the way up.
"Val is a club-man through and through. He's helped us at underage. This team, he had us from U-10 to U-16 and then back again at minor. That's probably where he has been most influential, coaching at underage. Teaching us how to actually play the game. Everyone associated Val Daly with Mountbellew-Moylough.
"So, yeah, in fairness he brought in a great backroom team around him and they've facilitated us to perform. That's your job, to perform on the day."
Val Daly managed Mountbellew-Moylough to their first Galway senior football championship in 35 years yesterday.
He was playing the last time they won it and his sons Michael and John were playing this time. pic.twitter.com/gZiCpaZdW9
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) November 15, 2021
That's exactlty what they did. They'll dine out now for a while, but they'll be ready to rock Connacht too.
Mountbellew-Moylough and Galway footballer Eoin Finnerty at the launch of this year’s AIB GAA Club Championships and AIB Camogie Club Championships, that will see AIB celebrating #TheToughest players of all: those who don’t quit, who keep going and persevere no matter what.