KILDARE All Star Peter Kelly has come to terms with missing his club's All-Ireland Junior championship triumph and can't wait to get back into action with the Lilywhites.
Kelly, who won his All Star in 2010, his debut year at senior level with Kildare, reckons he is a month away from full fitness after knee surgery performed last December.
The injury all but kept him out of the Junior All-Ireland final when his club Two Mile House defeated Fuerty of Roscommon at Croke Park on February 9.
The Kildare champs racked up 5-7 to Fuerty's 1-11 and while manager Jarlath Gilroy gave Kelly a few minutes on the pitch, it was more an acknowledgement of his contribution to the cause than a comeback.
"At that stage the game was nearly over," he said "We were out of sight on the scoreboard, so the manager just said: 'Do you want to go on?'
"I said I'd go on and do a bit of a jog for a few minutes, but it was more a token gesture. Obviously, I'd love to have been out there for the whole game. People are saying to me it was bittersweet, but it was more sweet than bitter to be honest, because it didn't really matter who was on the pitch.
"There were other lads beside me in the stand who trained all year and who didn't get on. So when you look at it from that perspective, it was tough for them as well, but it was fantastic to win the All-Ireland and we enjoyed the celebrations."
The Kildare defender ended his 2013 summer championship campaign with defeat to Tyrone in the qualifiers and a dismissal for two yellow-card offences.
He didn't waste any time dwelling on that disappointment, though, as Two Mile House were embarking on their county championship campaign.
Unfortunately Kelly injured his knee in his second match back with the club in August and it dogged him for a long period.
"I went over on the knee and it didn't really heal up. I went for a scan eventually. It showed up a bit of loose cartilage floating around and some bone damage as well.
"I knew I could play on with it and not really do too much damage. I didn't really do a whole lot of training and just had to stay off it as much as I could.
"I had the operation pencilled in, but the club kept winning and I kept going until the start of December when I had the operation.
"I knew it would be a bit of push to make the semi-final. That was my initial target after surgery, but the surgeon had to do a bit of extra work on the knee and it was slow to heal.
"I've been back training with Kildare, but it will probably be a month or so before I can get back into contention for a place in the team," said Kelly.
The recovery and rehab process means that the big defender will be sidelined for the visit of Tyrone to Newbridge on Sunday.
Mickey Harte's Red Hand team had a 100pc record over the Lilies last year. The sides met three times – league, league semi-final, and qualifiers – and Tyrone won them all.
"We've had a fair few battles with them over the years. It will be close again on Sunday. I'd expect there would only be few points between the sides either way, but it's still early days.
"Whatever the result is, you wouldn't read too much into it at this stage of the year," said Kelly.