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Kilkenny soldiers prepare to disarm rivals in pitch battle

THEY are swapping the camouflaged green and black of the battlefield for the black and amber of the pitch.

Two of Kilkenny's most recognised hurlers showed off their skills yesterday at McKee Barracks, Dublin, while still dressed in their uniforms from the day job, in advance of this weekend's All-Ireland final.

Eoin Larkin and Paul Murphy are both members of the Defence Forces based in Stephen's Barracks in Kilkenny.

"The preparation is all done now so it is the calm before the storm," Murphy said yesterday.

Both have spent time abroad with the Defence Forces -- Larkin in Kosovo and Murphy in Chad -- to the detriment of their playing careers in the past.

However, they draw close correlations between life in the army and on the pitch.

"The qualities are basically the same in hurling and the army," Larkin said. "Leadership and discipline -- those qualities are both in the army and in sport."

Other high-profile sports personalities currently serving in the Defence Forces include Dermot Earley, who plays for Kildare, and Stephen Molumphy of Waterford.

If Larkin wins a medal on Sunday, he will equal a Defence Forces' record held by Tipperary's Tony Wall from the 1950s who has five medals.

Irish Independent