It's amazing what you can achieve in the gym when you've an excuse not to do exercise.

My excuse on Monday morning was Sinn Féin. The party leader was in The Warehouse Gym in Galway, meeting the owner - a big fan of hers - and some members, also - fortuitously - big fans.

Other bemused gym regulars glanced on as a rake of journalists, photographers and politicos shuffled through the weights and dumbbells. A bizarre world, the campaign trail.

Work out done, I shuffled after the crew as they made their way to the local shops. The butcher box was ticked - is a canvas even a canvas without a butcher? - and we were on to the door-knocking.

The machine there was nicely oiled, a coterie of bushy-tailed youngsters enthusiastically hit the door as an older group led from behind.

This is the Sinn Féin of today, it seems. A vibrant youth - enthused by their policies on housing and healthcare - mixed with the old guard, many of whom joined the party when it was more associated with republicanism than progressive politics.

Canvas done, Mary Lou was off to prepare for the Claire Byrne Live debate. And I was off to recover from my work out.

Richard Downes in On The Trail for Prime Time during the election 2020 campaign. The online-only series is available on, RTE Player, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.