Buckley, Colm Cooper, Fionn Fitzgerald, Tony Brosnan and Gavin White were part of the Kerry set-up during the 2016 championship, but have trained exclusively with the club for the last two months. Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over Corofin is likely to extend their absence from the Kerry camp as they prepare for next month’s decider against Slaughtneil.
The hurlers of Ballyea are also on the bill at Croke Park on March 17 and while Tony Kelly, Jack Browne, Gary Brennan and Pearse Lillis lined out for the Clare hurlers and footballers last weekend, Buckley thinks it unlikely that any Crokes player will pull on the green and gold in rounds three or four of the Allianz league. The Kingdom entertain Monaghan on February 26 and are away to Roscommon March 5.
“I would think the club will be our sole focus,” said the Crokes captain. “We’re fully with Crokes. We talked to Eamonn before the semi-final and he was very obliging.
“We might have another chat with him and see how we go.”
For a handful of Pat O’Shea’s Crokes panel, including Cooper, Fitzgerald, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O’Leary and Buckley, an All-Ireland club medal is the last piece of silverware missing from their collection.
“It is something a lot of fellas in our dressing-room would die to have,” continued Buckley. “We’ll throw the kitchen sink at it and hopefully, it will be enough. I was only a young fella of 17 when we lost the 2007 final to Crossmaglen. I clearly remember the Oisin McConville point and all the rest of it.
“It being your club, you felt the disappointment as much as any fella. We are just delighted to be back there and have the chance to go again. There was a lot of hurt in the last two years with how we played as a club and then losing the three semi-finals in the three years before that.”
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