Tributes pour in for Kilkenny's 'Mr Consistency' as veteran Larkin calls it a day
Former Galway manager Cyril Farrell led the tributes to retiring Kilkenny star Eoin Larkin, branding him a "great player" and the Cats' "Mr Consistency."
The James Stephens clubman announced his retirement from the inter-county game in a statement yesterday, describing his career as "12 of the best years of my life".
And Farrell insisted he was as important as any of the star players to have lined out for the Cats in recent years.
"He was a great player and ever-reliable," Farrell said. "The bigger the occasion, the more he seemed to rise to it. He was almost always picked and that's not something you can say about too many people.
"He mightn't get the accolades that maybe DJ Carey or Henry Shefflin or TJ Reid get but he was their Mr Consistency. He seemed to love the big days and always delivered for them.
"He was also completely selfless when he played. The kind of player you'd love to have on your team. He was the complete team player."
Larkin made his senior debut in 2005 and his career yielded eight All-Ireland medals, 10 Leinster titles, six National League medals and two All-Stars. He won the Hurler of the Year award in 2008 and captained the Cats to All-Ireland glory in 2012. Larkin also win a pair of U-21 All-Ireland medals.
"I have enjoyed 12 of the best years of my life with success I could only have dreamed of," Larkin said in his statement. "It was always my dream from a young age to play, captain and win an All-Ireland with Kilkenny and I'm proud and happy to say I lived my dream.
"I am content to walk away now knowing I gave everything I could for myself but also the team every time I walked out on the training pitch or pulled on a Kilkenny jersey and left no stone unturned in the pursuit of perfection, although I never got close.
"I've played with and against some of the best players of all time and had the privilege of working with the best manager of all time for those years. Doing what I loved doing for 12 years didn't seem like a sacrifice but although they never said anything I know for a fact my family sacrificed a massive amount for me to fulfil my dream. I will never be able to thank my mother enough for the unwavering support in every way possible."
"And my father for his support and the opportunity he gave me from a young age to do what I loved. He brought me to trainings and matches and never hesitated when I asked 'could we go for a few pucks'. It was this that allowed me to practice and become the hurler I am today."
Larkin also confirmed that he intends to continue hurling at club level. "I want to thank Brian (Cody) for the opportunity of playing for Kilkenny and will be forever grateful. I also want to thank all the selectors, backroom staff and medical teams that I've worked with. It was often a tough task to keep me fit but they were always more than up for the challenge.
"I will continue to play for my beloved James Stephens for as long as I can and will go in search of further dreams.
"Lastly I want to wish Brian and the rest of the lads the very best in 2017. I will certainly be roaring on the black and amber."
Tributes flowed from around the GAA world. The likes of Larkin's clubmate Jackie Tyrrell, Eddie Brennan and Kerry footballer Aidan O'Mahony took to social media to pay tribute to the 32-year-old.
Larkin's retirement means that from the side that started the 2009 All-Ireland final win over Tipperary and completed the four-in-a-row, only Richie Hogan remains active.