KILDARE footballers will be without 2011 All Star Mick Foley for this year.
The 30-year-old Athy defender has confirmed that he is not available this year because he has undertaken on additional studies on top of his job as a secondary school teacher.
"There isn't enough time for both," he said. "I'm teaching full-time and I'm also doing a course.
"I'm trying to upscale myself in teaching maths and I won't be playing with Kildare this year."
Foley's withdrawal has sparked speculation that he may not return in future.
He made his senior debut for the Lilywhites in 2004 after winning a Leinster U-21 medal and has featured in a variety of positions across their defence, as well as midfield. He has also won county titles with Athy.
He started at full-back against Louth and Meath in last summer's Leinster SFC but did not feature in their one-point qualifier victory over Clare and only made a late appearance, off the bench, in their subsequent extra-time loss to Monaghan.
On that occasion he replaced Hugh McGrillen, who has also withdrawn from the squad this year as he is going travelling.
But one fillip for manager Jason Ryan is that their other former All-Star defender Peter Kelly, is just back after missing most of last year with injury.
Elsewhere, retiring Down hurler Paul Braniff has urged the GAA to re-think the hurling review committee's suggestion to take the Christy Ring final out of Croke Park.
They have suggested that second-tier finalists might get more acknowledgement if the final was played as a curtain-raiser before a Liam MacCarthy Cup qualifier, but Braniff disagrees.
"If you're walking up the steps to receive a bit of silverware (in Croke Park), how does that compare with receiving it in Cusack Park or whatever?" he asked.