Lilies blow as Bolton to miss most of League after operation
Kildare's League hopes have been dealt a significant blow with the news that star defender Emmet Bolton is set to miss the majority of the campaign.
The Lilies are back in Division 2 this term after gaining promotion in 2016 but they will have to operate without one of their most senior figures after the Eadestown man underwent surgery over the Christmas period.
Bolton suffered a burst appendix in the run up to Christmas and had an operation on St Stephen's Day.
"Emmet's appendix flared up on the Monday before Christmas but he had absolutely no idea that this had happened to him," explained Lilywhite manager Cian O'Neill.
"In fact, he came to training with us the following night, but because he fell unwell he didn't take part in the session and I sent him home. Over the course of the week he began to feel increasingly unwell and after receiving medical advice he was recommended to go to hospital," he continued.
"On Christmas Day he was admitted to Naas Hospital and he was operated on on St Stephen's Day.
"And after the operation he was detained in hospital for five to six days."
The recovery period associated with that surgery means that Bolton is not expected to return to training until early March, meaning he will miss their Division 2 matches against Meath, Cork, Derry and Fermanagh.
However, he could play some part in the round five clash with Down on March 18 in what looks a very competitive division.
"It could be anything from eight to 12 weeks before Emmet will have sufficiently recovered to come back to training with the panel," O'Neill continued.
"And of course when he does return, it will take him a bit of time to regain a suitable degree of physical fitness and match sharpness.
"However, there is no better man than Emmet to make a quicker recovery than most players from a situation like this, and as a result, hopefully he will get some game-time before we finish our campaign in the League."
As well as Bolton, O'Neill must plan without defenders Ciaran Fitzpatrick and Ryan Houlihan and wing-forward Adam Tyrrell for the coming season as he starts his second season in charge of his native county.
"Both Ryan and Adam will be departing for overseas duty with the army in March, and so they will not be available to us this year," explained O'Neill, who was part of the Kerry backroom team when they won Sam Maguire back in 2014.
"And Ciaran will be away on his honeymoon during this year's championship so he will be taking a break from playing with us this year."
Another absentee during 2017 will be experienced forward Eoghan O'Flaherty, who has opted out of the panel because of "personal reasons" while Eoghan's brother Morgan and Daryl Flynn have called time on their intercounty careers.
There is some good news for Kildare with Mick O'Grady, Paul Cribbin and former AFL player Sean Hurley all raring to go for the new campaign.
"Mick took a year out in 2016 as he was busy with studying for his Masters, and both Paul and Sean will also be back with us," O'Neill said.
Cribbin was sidelined for the rest of last year's Championship campaign after sustaining a leg injury in the opening-round win over Wexford.
Hurley is on the brink of returning to match action in the wake of undergoing a second hip operation in Australia last October.
Kildare start their season tomorrow with the visit of Longford to Newbridge in the O'Byrne Cup tomorrow afternoon.
Throw-in is at 2.0.