It has been a winter of change for Eoghan McLaughlin and his Mayo teammates.
The 22-year-old who was nominated for an All-Star after a fine debut season at inter-county level in 2020 has spent recent years under the watchful eye of James Horan first while playing for Westport and then Mayo.
McLaughlin will now be managed by Kevin McStay, who was confirmed as the new Mayo manager in August on a four year term.
McLaughlin was pleased with the appointment.
"I was really delighted when Kevin and his backroom team got the job," he says.
"I was so excited, I couldn't wait to get started.
"He has put a huge emphasis on nailing the pre-season period, preparing and focusing for the first round of the league and things are going really well for us so far.
"With Kevin little things are different, it's a change in culture," McLaughlin adds.
"He has a great backroom team around him, a very experienced team with Stephen Rochford, Donie Buckley, Liam McHale and Damien Mulligan. We're going to training every night, trying to improve and trying to get better.
"A number of new lads are now involved along with the experienced guys."
Eoghan McLaughlin on Lee Keegan's retirement
There have also been a couple of high-profile departures, most recently Lee Keegan who announced his retirement from the inter-county game this week.
"Leeroy is a role model to me, a few of my younger teammates and a lot of young people around Ireland. It was difficult to see him hang up the green and red jersey," McLaughlin admits.
"Growing up watching Mayo football and because Leeroy was from Westport, he inspired me a lot and was a role model for me.
He’s a great teammate. He’d always be giving you little tips and tricks in training and pulling you aside and giving you advice. He’d be very encouraging and you’d feel very empowered by him.
"I’ve played with him with Mayo now for the last three years and he just came to training every night willing to work. Just talking to more of my older teammates, he hasn’t changed since the day he walked into the dressing room. He just has a desire to win at all costs."
Another player who McStay will be without this year is Oisín Mullin who is making the move to Australia where he has signed for AFL side Geelong Cats.
"I’d be really friendly with Oisín and look it’s a great opportunity for him out there.
"I know it’s been playing on his mind for the last number of years. As a teammate, and I’m sure the rest of my teammates can say the same, I'm really happy for him to grasp the opportunity and just wish him all the best over in Oz."
UL looking to take the next step
McLaughlin came out on the losing side last year when his UL side were defeated in the Sigerson Cup final against NUIG. Now in his final year in the college he is hungry to go one step further this year.
"We’ve the same management team as last year and the previous year as well which is great," he says.
"Last year we felt we left it behind us. I’m lucky to get another crack at it this year.
"It’s obviously in the back of your head that you want to go on and win it but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For the time being we’re going to take it week-by-week and game-by-game."
McLaughlin will miss his days in UL having made unbreakable bonds in the dressing room. Over the course of the next few weeks he will look to make some more special memories with his friends and teammates.
"Over the past three years I’ve made friends for life.
"I’ve met some really, really good people and kept in touch with them all. On top of that I’ve had some great memories representing the college.
"We’ve a few great characters in the UL dressing room. It’s great craic with them."
Eoghan McLoughlin was speaking to media as Electric Ireland teamed up with six intercounty Camogie and GAA stars to look ahead to the upcoming matches and rivalries across the Electric Ireland Camogie Third Level Championships and the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Championships. Through its #FirstClassRivals campaign, Electric Ireland will continue to celebrate the unexpected alliances that form between county rivals as they come together in pursuit of some of the most coveted titles across Camogie and GAA.