After a difficult 2018 in which 12 players left the panel, it's been a case of turning a new leaf for Mayo.

Key figures such as Cora Staunton, Fiona McHale and Sarah Tierney leave big shoes to fill, while only four players who started the 2017 All-Ireland final against Dublin remain. One of those - Niamh Kelly - has taken over from Tierney as captain.

Kelly was in Croke Park on Tuesday for the launch of this year's John West Feile and after Mayo maintained their top-flight status in the league, the skipper is now relishing the prospect of a Connacht final date with Galway in June. 

"Our goal was to stay in Division 1 and we achieved that," she said.

"We've been back training since October so it was about training as hard as we could and gelling together because we had a lot of new faces in the squad.

"We didn't make a league semi-final, but I suppose that will give us more time to prepare for the Connacht final (23 June). The men are going to New York now. When you see them out playing, at least you can get out and support them. But it gives us time now to get back to our clubs. That's the priority now for the next while, to get a bit of games.

The Moy Davitts player is expecting a competitive championship as teams look to wrestle the title from Dublin.

"As of now, it's quite unpredictable," she added.

"Donegal got off to a great start in the league, they were brilliant. I think they shocked everyone with the results they came out with at the start, winning four from four. Dublin are coming good now, they had a lot of new girls on show at the beginning and now they’ve really developed. 

"You have the likes of Cork who have all the Mourneabbey contingent back.

"When we’re all making the same journey then that’s half the battle"

"Noelle Healy has got a job down in Cork so that’s a huge plus for Mourneabbey, she got Player of the Year as well [in 2017]. She’s a fantastic player so that’s a huge boost for them.

"Galway are doing very well as well and that’s who we have in the Connacht final. It’s always a rivalry against Galway so we’ll be gunning for them and we’ll work hard for the next 10 weeks to try and get a result."

Kelly is a schoolteacher based in Dublin,  but that in no way has curbed the 23-year-old's enthusiasm of the in lining out for the Green and Red.

"The travel is tough I suppose, but it’s grand in that a lot of the squad are based up in Dublin. Myself, my sister, Sinead Cafferkey, Sarah Rowe, a new girl Roisin Flynn, Ann Duffy and Michelle Treacy are just some of the contingent in the capital. We do our training in Dublin on Tuesday and then it’s down to Moate on Thursday, that’s half-way for everybody.

"When we’re all making the same journey then that’s half the battle. We’re in it because we love it. It’s not really a chore."

Mayo footballer Lee Keegan joined Limerick hurler Aaron Gillane, Mayo ladies footballer Niamh Kelly and Kilkenny camogie player Anna Farrell in Croke Park to launch the 2019 John West National Féile and to announce that John West will renew its sponsorship of the National Féile for a further four years until 2022.