Forde, who captained Galway to the 2011 All-Ireland U21 title, and who played at full-back and corner-back in last year’s championship, is a physiotherapist and has taken up a position with a London hospital.
Manager Alan Mulholland said Forde represented a significant loss to the Westerners’ championship ambitions. The Killererin mans departure adds to Mulholland’s woes as the Galway boss is already planning without Michael Meehan for the opening two rounds of the league.
On top of Meehan’s ankle injury, the Tribesmen will also be shorn of Garreth Bradshaw (ankle), Conor Doherty (knee), Gary O’Donnell (hip), John O’Brien (groin) and Keith Kelly (hip) for the first two rounds, while doubts surround the fitness of Dave O’Connell (finger), Greg Higgins (hip) and Mike Farragher (hamstring).
“Colin is definitely going to spend at least a year over there. He is gone from our point of view, which is a pity,” said Mulholland.
“We are missing a few lads, four or five of them are missing from the full deck. To counteract that after the FBD League, we have a few lads back from the colleges to pick from too.
“The first couple of games are going to be a little bit difficult to reintegrate the guys back and see what the best 15 is. Meath are going well, so it’s a very tough start for us.”
Meanwhile in team news, John Heslin will make his first appearance in the Westmeath jersey this year as they travel Leeside for the opening round of the Allianz football league on Sunday.
Heslin, who will line out at full-forward against Brian Cuthbert’s Rebels, has been on college duty this past month, hitting 0-7 (six from play) in UCD’s Sigerson Cup win over Athlone IT on Tuesday evening.
Fellow Lake County panellists Ger Egan, James Dolan and Kieran Martin also featured in Tuesday’s Sigerson encounter and all three are included in Paul Bealin’s starting line-up.
Newcomers Steven Gilmore, John Gilligan and Jamie Gonoud have been named in the Westmeath defence, while the relatively inexperienced John Egan leads the attack from centre-forward. There is no place for either Denis Glennon or Dessie Dolan, although the experienced pair are listed among the substitutes.
Donegal boss Jim McGuinness has handed starting roles to Martin McElhinney and the McHugh brothers for this weekend’s league clash away to Laois, all three of whom missed Donegal’s McKenna Cup campaign through college duty.
McElhinney will join Rory Kavanagh at midfield while Ryan McHugh is selected at corner-back, his brother Mark filling the right half-forward berth.
Christy Toye, who missed the entire 2013 campaign with a virus, is named among the reserves.
Laois captain Ross Munnelly has recovered from injury to resume his corner-forward slot for the Division 2 tie.
WESTMEATH (FL Div 1 v Cork): D Quinn; S Gilmore, K Maguire, D Dolan; J Dolan, J Gilligan, J Gonoud; D Duffy, D Corroon; G Egan, J Egan, P Sharry (capt); K Martin, J Heslin, A Giles.
DONEGAL (FL Div 2 v Laois): P Durcan; K Lacey, N McGee, R McHugh; F McGlynn, L McLoone, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; M McHugh, D Molloy, O McNiallais; C McFadden, M Murphy, D O’Connor.
LAOIS (FL Div 2 v Donegal): G Brody; D Booth, M Timmons, P O’Leary; D Strong, P McMahon, A Ryan; K Meaney, J O’Loughlin; J Finn, D Kingston, B Sheehan; R Munnelly, E O’Carroll, D Conway.