League must be first priority for Laois - Begley
He's still just 30 but Laois' Colm Begley still finds himself wondering where the time has gone.
When he returned from the AFL towards the end of 2009, Begley felt that he was coming back to a Laois side that had the potential to make an impact. After all, when he left, the county had been churning out good underage sides.
However, what they have produced since has seen them fall well short of his expectations.
"I did think we had the players," he said. "Everyone has said it and it has probably been said too much but we had a block of players there who were talented. We had minor success and I know that doesn't transfer on to senior but I thought we had a group of players who could do it. We showed glimpses of it for a certain while. We got to an All-Ireland quarter-final there with Justin McNulty, winning hard games.
"We weren't playing unreliable football but we were winning hard games and were beaten by Dublin by two points and then you're thinking, 'Here we go, we only lost by two points'.
"We probably didn't have the last push to win it. We were probably too scared about losing that two-point closeness that we didn't go fully out for it and that was experience.
"But you think to yourself, 'ok, let's build from this', but we didn't kick on through fault of ourselves and maybe through not getting the right coaching or having the right game plan in place - not through management but just through a lot of turnover with a new management coming in place and putting different things in."
Time is ticking on and Begley reckons players around his age are all too aware of it.
"I'm 30 now. Getting onto the older stage. In my mind there's only a few years in that block of players we have before a new era comes through... There's older players 30, 31 and 32 that they have only one or two years left so this is our push."
Laois have another new manager for 2017. Peter Creedon is the fifth manager that Begley will have played under since he returned from Australia.
And although it's early days yet, he has been heartened by what he has seen.
"It's a cliché but it's nice to get something fresh in there, we didn't have an overly good year last year through a combination of things. Peter Creedon has come in, he has a good reputation by all accounts and did good things with Tipperary and has been organised and what he has done so far which is a positive for players. It brings a nice energy to it."
And after slipping into Division 3 last spring, Begley wants the midlanders to gain promotion but warns it will be far from straightforward.
"You hear people say, 'You're down in Division 3, you have a great chance to get up to Division 2'. But if you look at the games individually, Laois aren't going unbelievably enough to say, 'We can go up'. It's a goal for us, it's a goal for most teams there I'd say.
"They probably think they can get to a Division 3 final and get up to Division 2 again. That's probably the first step for us."