Kilkenny star Eoin Larkin facing a six-week lay-off
Kilkenny star Eoin Larkin faces around six weeks on the sidelines after undergoing groin surgery.
The James Stephens man went under the knife of renowned surgeon and former Meath All-Ireland-winning footballer Gerry McEntee but his recovery period means he's unlikely to see action until the latter stages of the league.
Larkin is one of a host of familiar names unavailable to Brian Cody for Saturday night's league opener against Cork in Pairc Ui Rinn as they set out to defend their league title.
"That's the way it goes," Larkin said of his setback. "I just had to get a small job done. The recovery started last week.
"I think it will be five or six weeks (out), it could be longer.
"It will be frustrating. It wouldn't be one of my strong points sitting down and having to watch things. I'll just have to get on with it, be there for the lads. If they need any advice, I'll give it."
All six of the starting forwards from last year's All-Ireland final replay win over Tipperary will be absent for a variety of reasons. A winter of upheaval in Kilkenny saw a host of established stars retire, while injury and club duty mean that the Cats are without a staggering 14 of last year's squad.
"Your inter-county career flies by. If you go look at their records, nobody could say anything about them. Their time was done; it's time for new blood to come in. That was their decision.
"When we came back off the holiday we just had to forget about it. They're no longer part of the panel; we'll just have to concentrate on ourselves.
"We've had retirements before and just got on with things," Larkin continued. "We've a couple of new lads in - it's up to them to step up to the plate as much as the older lads. We still have a very good panel there. Will be hoping for good things this year."
Kilkenny's preparations for the new term were also hit by their decision to withdraw from the Walsh Cup after tragedy hit the camp meaning they haven't had a competitive game since last year.
"It probably is an advantage to Cork and a disadvantage to us."