Tommy Walsh is relishing the thought of pulling back on the Kerry jersey in the National League after a five-year absence in Australia and the AFL.
The Tralee man played 15 times for Kerry between 2007 and 2009, scoring 4-23 and winning an All-Ireland before heading Down Under in late 2009 and signing for St Kilda in Melbourne.
Then in 2011 Walsh moved to the Sydney Swans, where injury blighted his AFL career.
Now aged 26, the Kerins O’Rahilly’s forward has resumed his football career with his native county, who begin their 2015 National League campaign on Sunday against Mayo in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.
Walsh acknowledges he has to battle his way back into the reckoning for Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s starting XV over the coming weeks, but says that’s the case for everyone on the panel.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Walsh said: “As a squad I know the lads are very focused on Sunday. It was made clear to those who returned from South Africa [from the team holiday] that it is a clean slate.
"It’s Éamonn's job to put out what’s the best team for Kerry every week and that’s something he’s proven to do before and I’m sure it will be no different this year.”
As well as the Kingdom’s league ambitions, the main focus of 2015 will obviously be on retaining their All-Ireland crown, a challenge many previous winners have failed to overcome.
“It’s a huge challenge. If you look at team’s who’ve won it in the past it is very difficult to retain it,” said the 6’ 5’’ former All Star.
“The lads have come back in great shape and are very focused, and they’ve definitely put 2014 behind them.
“They’re all trying to better themselves and do that extra bit to get the edge into 2015, because often when you’re out to retain an All-Ireland, you have to work as hard if not harder than the year before.”
Walsh concedes he experienced mixed fortunes during his time in Australia, but he’s come home stronger for it, particularly mentally.
“Experience-wise, it was the best thing I ever did, not only as a life experience but sporting-wise as well" - Tommy Walsh on his time in Australia
“Experience-wise, it was the best thing I ever did, not only as a life experience but sporting-wise as well… to know how far I could push myself or put up with the mental battles of injury, lack of form or things that you’ll face here but over there it’s actually your job. It is a different type of pressure.”
He said he would not put off any aspiring young player from taking up an offer from an Aussie Rules outfit; the pros still outweigh the cons in Walsh’s mind.
“In terms of guys going out I know it’s probably not for everyone. Going over, you think about the good weather, the beaches, the professional lifestyle, but there are going to be a lot of tough and lonely moments.
“You will come back knowing a lot more about yourself. It’s something I would definitely recommend to any young fella that gets the opportunity, to at least think about it and give a go for a year or so.
“It’s definitely worthwhile and something I’ve gained a lot out of.
“There are going to be tough times. It’s not going to be plain sailing. You’re probably going from being the best footballer to where you’re into a team where you’re not used to the training, the ball and the game itself.
“In that sense it’s a big step back, I suppose, and you need to be ready to start again.”
Now it’s time for Walsh to start again, except this time it is back on home soil with the Kingdom’s faithful heralding his second coming.