Reilly: AIL is improving
Although he is still only 30, nowadays when Clontarf captain Ben Reilly looks around the dressing-room, he considers himself a veteran.
It says a lot about the work that has gone on in Clontarf from the bottom up in recent years that a player with plenty more miles left on the clock is one of the oldest members of the squad.
On Sunday, Reilly will look to join an illustrious list of skippers who have lifted the AIL Cup in consecutive years, but a Cork Con side who are still hurting from last year's final defeat stand in their way.
Reilly has been around the league long enough now to know the constant challenges it faces, but he firmly believes that the standard is increasing year on year.
"The standard gets better every year," the second-row insisted.
"The average age has got younger from when I started playing. I've gone from being one of the young lads to being the oldest lad in what feels like a short time but isn't really.
"But this year, it's probably the most competitive it's been in terms of three teams finishing on the same points and Con being a point below. Even at the bottom going into the final round, you had four or five teams who could have gone down.
"The quality is improving, the pace is improving with the quality of the young guys. You've got more Academy and those kind of players involved in the last few years, and that raises the intensity and the speed.
"People could do a better job of pushing it through the year, but it still has to compete with everything else."