DESSIE DOLAN was teetering on the brink of retirement before a phone conversation with new Westmeath manager Paul Bealin swayed the former All Star back into the inter-county fold for one more season.
The 34-year-old talisman doesn't put it so bluntly that Bealin talked him out of retirement, clarifying: "I was 50-50, I was sitting on the fence".
But he was definitely harbouring thoughts of walking away from a senior career that started with a league debut against Antrim way back in November, 1998.
"I rang Paul, or Paul rang me, and I wasn't sure what to do," revealed Dolan, who underlined his enduring class with a 15-minute cameo capped by two points from play against Dublin during Sunday's O'Byrne Cup opener.
"I was happy enough with my lot, but I suppose the fact we're playing Division One and it's a very young panel in Westmeath this year and if I can help in any way, I said I'd give it a go.
"I've been doing a couple of week's work with a personal trainer up in Dublin, just to get myself prepared. The hamstring is my biggest issue, so hopefully that won't go again this year."
Fitness permitting, Dolan retains the ambition to be a main player in maroon this season, not merely an impact sub. That, you suspect, is just how Bealin wants it too.
"It's not so bad when you can come on and lads are tired, it's that bit easier!" the Garrycastle clubman quipped.
"But to be honest, you have to aim that you're going to get the full 70 and that's my plan. I always look at the lads like Tomás ó Sé last year, and the likes of Johnny Doyle. You're keeping an eye on them and the standard (they set); they're well able to do it and that's what my plan is."
He also admitted that last summer's tame championship exit was not how he wanted his inter-county days to end. "It was very disappointing. You shouldn't be losing at home to Fermanagh, not like that anyway," Dolan concluded.