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Larkin: 'When get beaten you wonder is it all over, is this team finished?'

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Eoin Larkin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Eoin Larkin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Eoin Larkin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

IN this, their season-after-the-no-show before, there would, for Brian Cody, be a satisfying kind of irony should Kilkenny arrive at an All-Ireland final with so many of those whose futures were being questioned back in tow.

Having made fully sure the depth of his squad would never again be a detrimental factor to a season spinning out of control, his team - the greatest ever - has, over the course of this season, been subjected to unprecedented upheaval.

Now?

Brian Hogan is already back in the team. Michael Fennelly is, according to those privy to Kilkenny training sessions, lurking near his devastating pomp.

Ditto Richie Power.

And then there's Henry Shefflin who, sentiment aside, scored three excellent points in as many minutes off the bench in the Leinster final.

And even if wing-back might no longer be his home, you'd be shocked if Kilkenny's season lasted two more matches and Tommy Walsh didn't figure in both.

"I think if you had been around for the last couple of weeks and seen those lads training, you'd say they were going for their first All-Ireland medal," says Eoin Larkin.

"They are really driving it on, so are the younger lads. There's a good blend of youth and experience."

Thriving

So from apparently viewing the endline as a team after a summer which, by comparison with their performances over the previous decade, amounted to a meek showing, many of the men Kilkenny hurling would have to learn to live without are now back and thriving.

Says Larkin: "Once you still have the hunger and the enthusiasm for it….as Tommy Walsh once said 'your legs will always do what your mind tells you to do'.

"So when you have the enthusiasm to keep going, why not keep going.

"It could be any amount of things," he says by way of identifying the cause for an uncharacteristic slump.

"We had a good few injuries, we had been on the road for a good long time. We had a couple of draws then as well with the All-Ireland in 20012 and the replay.

"Then we drew with Dublin last year and there was a replay. There were a good few things just caught up with us and Cork just overtook us on the day.

"Certainly, after we got beat, you do wonder 'is it all over, is this team finished?'

"But as time goes on you start wanting to get back, you start getting the itch again and those feelings just go out of your mind.

Concentrate

"You just want to concentrate and work as hard as you can and prove people wrong."

Of Limerick, against whom Larkin last played in 2012, he notes: "They are a good physical team and they will try and bring that to the game as well.

"We will have to be ready in the physical stakes as well as the hurling stakes.

"They are fantastic hurlers, they have been coming for a couple of years.

"I suppose they are two years further down the line now, probably progressed in those two years as well so it is certainly going to be a big battle.

"You'd have to be happy," Larkin adds.

"We are after winning the league and the Leinster title but I think it is going to take a bigger performance to beat Limerick in the semi-final."


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