Over the weekend, Eamonn Fitzmaurice confirmed that Johnny Buckley has opted out of the Kerry panel for this summer's championship. "Personal family reasons" were cited by the Kerry manager.
The news came as a surprise to Buckley's Dr. Crokes clubmate, Colm Cooper.
"He's involved in running a very successful bus company. I didn't see it coming to be perfectly honest," Cooper said at the announcement of AIB's five-year extension to their All-Ireland Football Championship sponsorship.
Himself and his Dad run the business. So, he feels he needs to commit more time there.
It's disappointing for him because I think he had plenty to offer, in the forwards or in midfield. I'm sure it's news that Eamonn Fitzmaurice didn't want but those things happen.
I don't believe it was announced as a retirement. I'm sure the door will be open for Johnny to come back in but that's not going to happen this season.
Cooper believes that Buckley's absence - he captained Kerry in last year's championship - will hurt the Kingdom.
"I thought I might meet him at the weekend but I haven't had a chat with him about it. I'm sure he has his own reasons so you have to respect that and move on.
"People have a lot going on in their personal lives as well and we have to respect that. Sometimes we get enthralled with the game and everything is about the game but we have to understand that everyone is human after all and it's their choice to play or not to play.
"He'll be a loss to Kerry and that'll be the biggest disappointment."
Footballers Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown & Galway), James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams & Dublin), James O’Donoghue (Killarney Legion & Kerry), Colm Cooper (Dr. Crokes & formerly Kerry) and Stephen Rochford (formerly Crossmolina Deel Rovers, current Mayo manager), all AIB employees, were in Dublin as AIB announced a five-year extension to their 27-year GAA sponsorship.
The extension covers the All-Ireland Club Championships of which, AIB have been title sponsor since the 1991/1992 campaign, the All-Ireland Football Championship, first sponsored in 2015, as well the AIB Camogie Club Championships, which AIB have been involved with for the last 5 years.
Picture credit: Sportsfile