Earlier this week Monaghan Ladies footballer Therese Scott's baby girl turned one, and after this week’s return to club action too, there was plenty to celebrate.
Playing under her maiden name Therese McNally won an All Star award in 2011 as the Ulster side experienced a run of ten provincial titles in a 12-year spell.
Now a mother of three, Scott is back and hoping to help the county to a first win since 2016.
Returning to the county fold was helped by her sister Grainne, also making her personal comeback following her marriage and the birth of her son.
The McNally sisters had been to the fore of Monaghan’s drive to three TG4 All-Ireland finals in 2008, ’11 and ’13, but playing the game is very different now for the Tyholland natives.
Growing up they were never far away from a GAA field. Their father Owen is a former manager of the county Ladies team, Ulster GAA president and county board chairperson, as well as a founding member of Tyholland Ladies team – along with their mother Eileen.
In 2002 Eileen played in goals as the club rounded off a memorable year by winning the All-Ireland Junior Club football title at Croke Park. Owen was the manager and all five of their daughters played that day.
Coming back to the county team it was important for Therese to make sure Isla (5), Bobby (2) and baby Julia (1) got an early taste of the game, and every effort has been made by her team-mates to make that happen.
"We took them on the bus to Kerry the weekend we were playing there. Myself and Grainne took the kids with us. We were staying overnight so we said we’d give it a shot," said Therese, who now plays her club football with Emyvale since her native club closed.
"Mammy and Daddy would have always taken us with them for their games. The best part of football we remember growing up was on the bus with the Monaghan Ladies team.
"I took my oldest two and Grainne took her wee boy Darragh to Kerry. Isla still asks about it 'when can we go again, back on the bus with the girls?’ It was great for them.
"I had taken the iPad to keep them entertained, but we never switched it on once the whole trip up and down to Kerry. The girls were brilliant, they interacted with them and played games.
"Mammy and Daddy drove behind the bus the whole way so if we needed them they were there, but it was fine. They didn’t want to go with Granny and Grandad this time.
"Since then now I have to sneak out the door because they think they went one day so why can’t they go every other day?"
Despite having two Lidl National League games under her belt before the season was halted in March, making her return to football wasn’t as smooth this time round for Therese. Back in 2016 she made a rapid return to the team following the birth of Isla, but this time round it took a little longer.
"After each child it got harder to come back. I had split my tummy muscle after having my second, the wee boy. I got pregnant so close again it got worse this time.
"After both of them I had physio to go through and I wasn’t really allowed to do any lifting for the first six or seven weeks. After about 12 weeks I was able to do a bit of light running. It was harder to get back for sure.
"This time I said I wasn’t going to come back at all, but you really do miss the game. I work with Ciara McAnespie – she’s Julia’s godmother too – so there was a bit of chat going on with her. Then when Ciaran (Murphy) rang me, I though I’ll give it one more go.
"I think it’s nearly like a drug for me, especially as you get older and you have kids and your social life isn’t as busy, it’s more that you need something.
"For me, the thing I have missed the most is meeting up with the girls. Going out to football in the evenings lets you totally wind down and forget about everything. If you had a tough day that’s a great help. I forget about everything out on the football field."
Years of honing her fitness levels meant Therese was able for the rigours of inter-county football earlier this year, and she was thrilled to last the full hour against Kerry and Cavan in Division 2.
But as a former finalist in Ireland’s Fittest Family it is no surprise that she has reserves to fall back on.
"That was actually filmed in 2013, but it aired in January 2014. We made it to the All-Ireland that year and I was captain. We were recording the show at the same time. It probably wouldn’t happen nowadays.
"I had taken the iPad to keep them entertained, but we never switched it on once"
"If we had a game on the Sunday we’d do Ireland’s Fittest Family on the Saturday or vice versa. Looking back at it now I’d never do that again, it was real tough going. Grainne was in the same boat too.
"There was the whole confidentiality thing, we couldn’t tell anyone. Our manager Gregory (McGonigle) knew we were doing it alright, but I don’t think he realised how tough it was.
"I remember one Sunday we played Galway in Monaghan and we had to travel up home straight after filming the mud trail in Connemara.
"I don’t think it had any effect on our game, if anything it made me and Grainne stronger. It really did test us mentally and physically."
Club training returned for the Emyvale ladies this week, and with a busy schedule ahead Therese is excited to start again.
"It has been a tough few months away from the game, but it looks like we’ll be back playing county football in the middle of October, at least that’s something to look forward to."