Monday 24 September 2018

Cats still behind Tipp and Galway in pecking order - Larkin

Eoin Larkin Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Eoin Larkin Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

A wry smile runs across Eoin Larkin's face when he's asked about his infamous tweet of a little over a year ago.

"Not good enough," it began. "Still reliant on experienced lads. Younger lads need to have the attitude, never give up. Too many standing around."

Larkin's frustration came in the wake of a 13-point defeat to Clare, the county's heaviest competitive defeat of the Brian Cody era.

His was a rare voice of dissension from within Kilkenny and it certainly didn't go unnoticed.

He admits now that those within the camp made it clear they weren't pleased with his decision to go public.

"I got a good bit all right," he remembered.

"No, not from them (the players), from a couple of lads on the inner circle we'll say. Not exactly on the inner circle but near it.

"I'm not sure whether it had a positive impact or not but that is the way I was feeling at the time. It probably was a bit harsh on my part but coming from what I was after coming from and watching that it was somewhat disheartening.

"They took it on board and I'm sure I wasn't the only one saying it to them, I'm sure Brian and the lads were saying it behind closed doors too.

"They learned from it and brought it forward and into their game."

It all must feel like a distant memory in the wake of their latest league title, acquired after yet another Nowlan Park win over Tipperary.

On Sunday, Larkin saw all the qualities he bemoaned the absence of just over a year ago.

"To be honest I didn't expect them to win yesterday," he said at the launch of the inaugural AIB GAA Club Player Awards which takes place in Croke Park on Saturday, April 21.

"I thought if they could come out of it with a respectable scoreline they could take it on the chin and move on and try improve a bit for championship. They really surprised me.

"Everything didn't go according to plan hurling wise but they fought like dogs and never gave up on any ball. There was always someone there to back them up and that's a huge attribute to have in any team."

With Paul Murphy, Colin Fennelly and the injured Richie Hogan still to come back into the mix, Kilkenny can look to the summer with some excitement. However, Larkin warned against expecting too much.

"I hope (expectations haven't changed). They were on a bit of a downer at the start of the league, I suppose, but in fairness to the Kilkenny public, they were still getting right behind the team and supporting them.

"I just hope they don't get too carried away now and expect that we are going to run away with the All-Ireland because it just doesn't happen like that.

"I know they have experience now in the league but championship is a whole different kettle of fish, they need to gain some experience.

"I think the Kilkenny public realise that the team that I was on is gone and that this is a new team. They have to give them their chance as well.

"Who is to say that in five years' time they won't be better than the team that I played on?

"And at the rate they have improved over the league campaign, nobody would bet against them either. They just need to be given that bit of time and patience."

Sunday's win saw one bookmaker cut the Cats from 6/1 to 9/2 third favourites for the All-Ireland title. But Larkin insists they still have some work to do if they are to go all the way.

"It seems to be open like it was last year but I still think Tipperary and Galway are heading the market and Kilkenny maybe just behind in terms of it was still only a league final yesterday, Galway are All-Ireland champions, Tipp have been there and done that. Kilkenny still have to prove it in the championship."

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