Carlow have been dealt a significant blow ahead of the Championship with the news that influential midfielder Brendan Murphy is to move to the US for the summer.
After securing promotion from Division Four and a five-game Championship run in 2017, hopes are high that the county can push on again this year, but the loss of the Rathvilly club man is a major setback for the Barrowsiders.
The 29-year-old, who missed the 2015 Championship after moving to New York, informed manager Turlough O’Brien of his decision and is expected to move in the coming weeks and submit a transfer request.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, O’Brien admitted it was "disappointing" news but that he wished the player well.
Carlow take on Louth at O’Moore Park in less than three weeks in their Leinster opener.
Murphy spent two years in Australia after leaving Ireland in 2007 to join the Sydney Swans, but despite impressing in reserve football, he returned after injury setbacks.
He made his Carlow debut in 2010 and has become a key figure for the county.