Johnny Doyle has revealed he decided to end his illustrious Kildare career after realising he could no longer give the commitment that he had always demanded of team-mates.
Doyle and wife Siobhan recently had twins and the 37-year-old said that meant he could no longer "put family second" and "give 100 per cent".
“To be honest it was on my mind before I went back. I didn’t go back training with the rest of the squad [before the start of the league],” he told RTÉ Sport.
“Our family got a little bit bigger there before Christmas and it was all hands on here at home. Things got hectic.
"I was always the one in the dressing-room trying to drive things on, telling the players ‘You have to give this 100 per cent, you’ve to put family second, to an extent you have to put your job and your life on hold, because if we’re all pushing in the same direction we have some chance'.
"You can’t cod yourself and think not giving 100% is going to be good enough" - Johnny Doyle
“The day it doesn’t apply to you... you can’t cod yourself and think not giving 100 per cent is going to be good enough.
“I had to be honest with myself and honest with the team. Unfortunately my time had come.
“Once I decided that it was it, I had a good chat with Jason [Ryan] last week. Obviously, he was disappointed but he could have told me to head out the gates and he didn’t.
"I trained last Thursday and in fairness he gave me a few minutes against Westmeath, and my family were around me so it was a nice way to finish off.
Doyle, who won a Leinster championship in 2000 and an All-Star award, said his inter-county career had hugely exceed his expectations.
“I’m very proud of the time I had," he said. " Never in my wildest dreams did I think that when Micko started me back in 2000 would I play the next 67 games or whatever it was.
“I was always very proud and honoured to put on the white jersey. I always felt that someone better wore it before you and probably someone better would wear it after you and it was up to you to keep the standard high.
Despite Kildare's relegation from Division 1, Doyle also believes that are reasons for optimism ahead of the county's Championship campaign.
“I think Kildare football is in a very strong position," he said.
"It’s going to take a bit of time, there are an awful lot of young lads there, but they are lads who have tasted success and are hungry for more.
“You’d love to still be playing in Division 1, the higher the level you’re playing at, the better, but [overall] they’re in a good state.
“Jason Ryan has a good team around him. Things aren’t as bleak as they might look from the outside, definitely the boys are in great physical shape.
“Confidence comes from winning and some of the football [against Westmeath] was very encouraging.”
Former Armagh great Oisín McConville paid tribute to Doyle, saying he would have still been one of the best forwards in Gaelic football if he had decided to play on this summer.
“He was one of the top players," said McConville. "He was almost a Ryan Giggs-type figure, he changed his game as time went on.
"Up until Sunday, I would have thought he was still one of the top forwards in the country but I suppose we all have to step away.
“But when you see quality leaving our game, it is a sad day."