Mark Breheny happy to be back on the brink
IT'S eight years since Sligo won their third and last Connacht title and at the end of last season, their chances of adding to it any time soon looked decidedly dim.
So much so that Mark Breheny (above), one of the survivors of the class of '07 contemplated before the start of the season whether his time might be better spent doing something else.
"I remember meeting Niall (Carew) before Christmas and coming into that time of the year you are always wondering if it is time to give it a permanent break," he recalls now.
"I was talking to Niall and he felt that there was something special in the team and he would have done a lot of research on the players.
"I got a feeling from him that he felt that I had more in my game, I had an opportunity to go on and push for a second Connacht medal and that is something that I bought into then as I spoke to him.
"I thought about it over Christmas and got back to him then and the rest is history.
"I am very proud now to lead the team out in a Connacht final."
Carew, who had come from an undistinguished two years in charge of Waterford, also came to Sligo equipped with plenty of knowledge of the tools with which he would be working.
"Yeah, we were all really impressed by that," Breheny states now.
"For any county player that is ambitious to do well, when a new fella comes in and he knows their background, he knows the form of how they have gone over the years.
"He was involved with Kildare when they played us in 2012 so he was part of Kieran McGeeney's backroom team who was given the job and do the research on us.
"He kept that in his notes and that is why when the opportunity came to come and manager us he took it."
"He felt that there was more in me, that I could score more, be more of a leader and then the captaincy was mentioned," Breheny adds.
"Every facet of my game. Could I make more passes? Could I convert more?
"He felt my fitness was at a high level but he wondered could I improve on that at my age."
One - unexpected - victory over Roscommon later and they have a crack at Mayo in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday for another provincial crown.
"Mayo are very strong opponents because of what they have done over the years and they probably should have won two All-Irelands at this stage," Breheny notes.
"We are there. We have a chance, we are going to put in a big performance and we will see where it goes."