Normally after the Battery's season is over, you go to New Zealand and play there in the winter. You took this winter off. Why?
"I had a couple of injuries at the end of last season, and I think in the last three years I've had a total of three weeks off, and that's not good for your body. That's going to catch up to you after a while, and I think it did this past season. I was able to go home to Ireland and we had some family business with a couple of weddings. I feel great, my body feels great and I'm ready for the season."
With so little training time to prepare for this week's Carolina Challenge Cup, what do you guys hope to get out of it?
"As an individual, I'm trying to get match-fit and use the tournament to get to know my teammates. We've got a lot of guys down here on trial and we need to get a look at them and get used to playing with them in practices and games. We're a month away from the start of our season, so getting fit is the most important thing. Of course, we want to get a good result as well. We're the host team, so we don't want to get embarrassed in front of our home fans."
Is playing against a Major League Soccer team still something special for you?
"Of course. When you play against a team from a higher level, you want to prove that you belong on the same field with them. You never know what's going to happen in (football). I might have a good tournament and one of these teams sees me and all of a sudden I'm playing in the MLS. I've seen it happen that quickly here and over in Europe."
You got to play against the Columbus Crew's Tom Heinemann, a former Battery teammate, in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Is that difficult?
"Not at all. Tom is a friend, we won a championship together with the Battery, and that's a bond that can never be broken. He's also a very good player and you want to play against the best to test yourself. We just had to put our friendship aside for a couple of hours."
The last couple of seasons, you've played against a couple of teams from England in Portsmouth and Bolton. What are those games like for you being from Ireland?
"They were an incredible experience. You grow up watching the English Premier League and then you're on the same field with them. But you can't treat them any different from any other players. They put their (cleats) on the same way everyone else does."
You guys are two years removed from winning a championship. Can you still draw on those experiences to help you this season?
"For myself personally, I think you can. I think the guys that were on that team and are still here know what it takes to win, so they can draw on that experience. And I think those guys can let the other guys know what it takes."