Offaly senior football manager John Maughan says he feels "shattered" by news of the serious injury picked up by the vastly experienced Niall Darby.
Darby picked up a significant injury at training on Tuesday night.
He will miss Offaly's Tailteann Cup semi-final against Westmeath on Sunday but faces a long lay-off if he has to undergo surgery.
"I have met a lot of good lads in my time and Niall is arguably one of finest I have ever come across," Maughan told RTE Sport.
"He is the ultimate professional and I went home shattered after he picked up the injury at training.
"He was at Santry last night and we have not got confirmation yet but it looks like his cruciate ligament is gone and it is shattering.
"It happened 25 minutes into our training session on Tuesday night and the quality of the session dropped after it because Niall is universally liked by all, he is from a great dynasty and at 34 he feels he won’t be able to leave Gaelic football on his terms now if he has to face surgery.
"What an ambassador he is. It’s tough on everyone."
Maughan has his own experience of serious injury.
"It’s the nature of sport," he said.
"I was 25 when it happened to me – I went for a routine cartilage operation and ended up having five of them, which led to my career finishing."
Darby was in top form in the Offaly defence this year, often contributing to the scoresheet. One of the county’s longest serving players, he holds 11 senior football medals with Rhode.
After making his Offaly senior football debut in 2008 his loss this weekend and beyond will be massive.
As for Maughan he was one of the first to speak positively of the competition following the team’s meek Leinster SFC exit to Wexford earlier this year.
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"We are very much in favour of this, it is a great chance for counties to compete and the Offaly boys are thrilled to bits to be at Croke Park.
"We were here for a Division 3 final against Derry but that was an ugly enough experience for us. This team wanted to get back to Croke Park, every inter-county footballer wants to be here and it has been brilliant for us so far.
"We were very poor in Leinster and to be able to resurrect ourselves is great. We took a two-week break after losing to Wexford and every player bar one turned up at our first training session back two weeks later.
"That was enough for me. I came away from that session and headed down the road to Castlebar bubbling. I got the reaction I was hoping for."
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Follow the Tailteann Cup semi-finals on Sunday, Sligo v Cavan (1.45pm) and Offaly v Westmeath (4pm), via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1.30pm with live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1