Cork's ladies footballers will be without the services of dual star Rena Buckley again this year, manager Ephie Fitzgerald has confirmed.
The 18-time All-Ireland senior champion opted to concentrate solely on the camogie set-up last year as she was named captain.
In September, she steered Paudie Murray’s charges to glory and collected a remarkable 18th All-Ireland medal – her seventh camogie Celtic Cross – and became the most decorated player in Gaelic games.
Buckley is yet to feature for the camogie side this year and has passed on captaincy duties to goalkeeper Aoife Murray.
And Fitzgerald confirmed that she won’t feature for the footballers in 2018.
“I was hoping Rena would come back but no, she’s not,” he said on the 2018 TG4 Ladies Football All-Star Tour in Bangkok.
"You'd nearly be frightened to look at how many we've lost, but are still very competitive. The changeover happened very dramatically in that lots went together. Vera Foley is huge loss, Deirdre [O'Reilly], the list goes on and on and on."
And 2016 senior Players’ Player of the Year Bríd Stack’s inter-county future is still uncertain, the All-Ireland winning manager continued.
“She’s not retired, she’s had a lot of injuries,” he said of the 11-time All-Ireland champion. “Likewise, with all of the girls, I was hoping maybe we’d get one or two back but it’s up to them really.
“I don’t push that. I wouldn’t ask if Bríd wants to come back, she knows she’s welcome. I’ve told her that several times. Bríd has got married now and she has other commitments, she started up her own business so there’s an awful lot going on for her.”
Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is backing his club Nemo Rangers to succeed in the AIB All-Ireland senior club football final on Saturday.
The Cork and Munster champions face Galway’s Corofin in the Croke Park decider, and the former Nemo player and manager is hopeful that they’ll come out on top.
That said, he feels that 1998 and 2015 champions Corofin will go into the fixture as favourites.
“I think they [Nemo] have a good chance,” he said.
“There’s good determination there and there’s a massive will to win. They’ve probably surprised everybody with the improvement over the last 12 months I would say really. They’ve played some lovely football.
“I think there’s a good chance but you never know on the day. On All-Ireland final day, a lot of factors come into play but I would be hopeful that they’d give a very good account of themselves.
“It’ll possibly come town to a game of the forwards. It could be a very good spectacle with lots of scores.”
Nemo are the roll of honour leaders with seven crowns to their name, their last coming in 2003, and while there has been a good buzz in the build-up, it has been hampered.
Fitzgerald explains: “Unfortunately Colin O’Brien, one of the lads on the team, his father passed away yesterday. That will be tinged with a bit of sadness.
“He’s been quite ill for a long time, it’s a pity he didn’t see it out. But that will probably be a little bit of a galvanising thing for the lads as well. There’ll be a huge Nemo crowd out. It’s a massive day out for everyone, it’s fantastic.”