LAOIS star Colm Begley will miss several months of football after undergoing groin surgery.
Yesterday's operation has come as a surprise -- he was one of the players who helped launch the Sigerson Cup last week, when he made no mention of it.
At that time he also signalled that his first loyalty for the season-opening Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup next month would be for his college (DCU), not the county.
Begley tweeted: "Surgery went well. Now to try my best not to get fat over Christmas."
It is believed that the problem initially flared up after Begley lined out for Ireland in the International Rules series in October.
A Laois source confirmed last night that he will be out for "a few months".
He looks set to miss most of the first half of the Allianz Football League, and that is a blow to new Laois manager Tomas O Flatharta as Begley is one of Laois' most experienced and versatile players, capable of playing at midfield or on either '45'.
The former Aussie Rules star, who plays for Dublin club Parnells, had already done some pre-season training with the county panel and had talked optimistically about how the new Laois manager looked to be more attack-minded than his predecessor Justin McNulty.