Injured Larkin won't relish his watching brief
EOIN LARKIN is like most elite county players - a terrible spectator - but he'll have to get used to the experience for the majority of this year's Allianz Hurling League.
The seven-time All-Ireland medallist started his recovery last week from groin surgery that will keep him sidelined for "five or six weeks, could be longer" … at which rate he might barely make it back for the Division One knockout (or relegation play-off) stages at the end of March.
"It will be frustrating," Larkin admitted at Kilkenny's Glanbia sponsorship launch in Nowlan Park. "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."
Kilkenny open their latest league title defence in Cork on Saturday night, with the 2008 Hurler of the Year underwhelmed by thoughts of watching, not playing. "I don't enjoy it one bit. A bit of nerves and frustration. I don't make for a good spectator," he conceded.
Larkin will not be alone. Of last year's All-Ireland final panel, 13 won't be around for their league throw-in through a mixture of retirements, All-Ireland club commitments with Ballyhale Shamrocks and injuries such as his own.
"When you see the amount of lads that are out - 13 of the lads from the All-Ireland have been mentioned - I think transition could be a word that's used," he accepted.
"It's unbelievable. I don't think it's happened before. We've always had 10, 12 players from the All-Ireland for the first round of the league."
But he's adamant that those remaining simply must get on with it.
"We obviously want to win it (the league). We won't be going out with any more ambitions than go out and try and win all our games, get to a league final and then to win it. That's the way we approach every year. It won't matter who's playing, we'll have 15 lads with Kilkenny jerseys," he stressed.
"We've had retirements before and just got on with things. 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. We'll be hoping for good things this year."
As for the five now-former comrades who called time, Larkin admitted: "The calibre of the lads that did retire and the hurlers that they've been over the years, it was a big shock to everyone. More so to lads outside the camp than inside. That five or six-week period was hard to take at the time. We had a good time on the holiday, though."
Last question: Henry Shefflin, will he or won't he?
"I didn't think the other lads would go, so I don't think Henry will either," he surmised.
"I've only been on one holiday with Henry so there wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary there either (that he didn't go this time).
"I've asked the Ballyhale lads as well and they said he hasn't spoken to them either.
"So your guess is as good as mine."