Despite pressure, Larkin defies all the critics

HE WAS meant to be the man under most pressure coming into this game, too slow for the new scoring star of hurling, Tipperary’s brilliant Eoin Kelly, but in the end, he was probably the Kilkenny player to emerge with the most credit.

Philly Larkin is the bearer of a proud tradition, three generations of All-Ireland winners, and yesterday in Croke Park, that pride showed.

"His back was to the wall, and that's the best place to have him", was manager Brian Cody's brilliantly succinct summation of his corner back's display.

Stung for three magnificent points by Kelly in the first quarter, a goal chance denied only by the courage of keeper McGarry, Larkin went on to hurl the game of his life, and denied the starlet another sniff at goal.

"Yeah, he got the three points at the start, but you're going to get that in Croke Park, the space there is now," Larkin said.

"I felt one or two of them, I had to commit to the man coming, you have to sacrifice yourself," he said.

"Happy enough we won, but we held that full-forward line well in the second half, the three of us played fairly well.

"The lads in front of us made that easier for us, J.J. Delaney is a great young lad, coming on in leaps and bounds, and once he does that outside me, it makes my job that much easier."

Centre of that half-back line was the majestic Peter Barry, and he spoke of the intensity of the game, the focus needed to contain the potent Tipperary attack.

"It was a massive game. John Carroll is a fantastic hurler, then Brian O'Meara came on me, he's outstanding as well," Barry said.

"It was a case of all the backs going man-to-man with the forwards, trying to win your own position, and that's what it's all about. You can't afford to lose concentration for even a second, and that's what happened for their goal, something silly, we left a man loose when we shouldn't," he said.

"We'll look at that on the video, learn from it, or try and learn from it anyway! For the second half, we decided we were just going to try and win our individual battles, as many balls as we could, and that wasn't just the half-back line. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but we don't over complicate it in Kilkenny!"

Star of the show up front was Henry Shefflin.

"Ah, pressure is part of the game, and if you can't handle it, you won't be there, simple as that," Shefflin said.

"But D.J.? Ah, he was class, the legendary run made the goal. I'm delighted for him, he was going well in training, and it's great to have him there, even in the dressing room."

D.J. Carey never doubted, after a year's absence from inter-county fare, he would again be able to produce.

"You can never have a fear about your own ability. If you've done it in the past, you go out and you're confident in your own ability," Carey said.

"The way I look at it, I've been here, I've done it in the past, I've played well, I've played bad. To go out and play bad doesn't worry me, because I don't ever think I'm going to play badly. If I do, I worry about it afterwards, but I certainly don't worry about it coming up to a game, or on the day," he said.

Set up the goal, two points from play, couple of pointed 65s, tormented poor Tom Costello not a bad hour's work.

"On the field, you can't judge that, you can only try and judge the tempo of the game. I was given the number 15 shirt today, asked to do a job, and I did it to the best of my ability," Carey said.

"As I said before, no one has a magic button they can press to say, I'm going to do it today.

"You go out, do your best, and if it works out, it works out."

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