Donegal boss Rory Gallagher has suffered a massive blow to his hopes of a successful season after a host of Donegal players retire, three stalwarts calling time on their inter-county careers today.
A few days ago Donegal's hopes of progressing in this year's championship took a massive hit when Odhrán Mac Niallais announced that he was quitting the panel for the season due to "personal reasons" and was joined on the sidelines by another mainstay of the county panel, Leo McLoone, who has also decided to step away from the green and gold for 2017.
This was a further setback to Donegal manager Rory Gallagher after the retirements of Eamon McGee and Colm McFadden following the 2016 campaign and Allstar goalkeeper Paul Durcan's move to work in the Middle East.
And now Donegal fans will truly have their heads in their hands as Gallagher has told the press that All-Ireland winners Christy Toye, Rory Kavanagh and David Walsh have all retired from inter-county football.
Christy Toye, Rory Kavanagh & David Walsh have retired from the Donegal senior county football squad. More to follow soon.
— The BBC Championship (@bbcchampionship) January 10, 2017
Earlier in the day the news broke that half-back Anthony Thompson had quit the panel but would potentially return at some point later in the year - but the decision of the experienced trio to hang up their boots will rock the county (though Kavanagh did make a retirement u-turn ahead of last season).
All three won the All-Ireland in 2012 alongside Thompson, McGee, McLoone, Durcan and McFadden and the fact that they are all now gone signifies a real changing of the guard in the county.
Such a mass exodus - and mostly around the same time - is highly unusual, and questions will be raised as to what this will do for morale in Gallagher's now-depleted panel as well as among Donegal supporters.
Toye in particular was fairly beloved among Donegal fans due to the fact that he seemed to get better with age. In 2014, when Donegal lost to Kerry in the All-Ireland final, he had a particularly fine campaign.
No Donegal player scored more Championship goals in Croke Park than Christy Toye. Turned game v Dublin in 2014, their best player in final.
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) January 10, 2017
In my short time as a Donegal fan I can't recall many better individual performances from a player than Christy Toye in Portlaois in 2014.
— Niall McCauley (@Nially1988) January 10, 2017
Farewell grey wizard Christy Toye. The hero for salt and pepper haired men everywhere.
— John Fogarty (@JohnFogartyIrl) January 10, 2017
Christy Toye... An absolute gentleman.. And what a player. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 https://t.co/f5XW9Plt2i
— lawrencedonegan (@lawrencedonegan) January 10, 2017
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