Former Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin said it’s natural that some pundits want to believe the county are hitting a fallow period but warned Brian Cody has other ideas.
Before the third defeat on the spin to Clare on Sunday, the likes of Offaly’s Daithí Regan saw the Cats as in “regression” and not being genuine All-Ireland contenders.
Larkin accepts Kilkenny are in transition but knows Cody’s aim won’t have lowered.
“It’s expected that people with the success we have had want to see new teams coming through.
“They’re all entitled to their opinions and I’m not going to say whether they’re right or wrong because they can do that.
“But be under no illusions that Brian Cody is not staying around because Kilkenny are in turmoil or in transition. He really believes in the panel he has at the moment.
“He’s a huge panel in there right now and he’s doing all he can to have them right for the Leinster championship.”
Three years ago, Kilkenny found themselves in a relegation play-off against Clare before beating them and going on to win a second successive All-Ireland crown.
The league is not the time for panic stations, insists Larkin, especially with so many players unavailable.
“If he had a couple of the experienced lads in to guide the younger lads along the way it would be great but they’re not there and it’s tough when you don’t have that experience.
“They were only beaten by three points in Cork and it was another three points against Clare but then Conor Fogarty was missing on top of all the others.
“I think Brian will be happy the younger lads are acquitting themselves well enough. If he comes out of this league with three or four players he can put faith in for the summer then it will be a good league for Kilkenny.”
Larkin is enthused by James Maher’s return but knows he’s “still not at full tilt” as he recovers from serious injuries – “he’ll be a huge addition when he’s right”.
Richie Reid gives him reason to be optimistic too – “he’s been shifted around the place from sub goalie with Kilkenny to centre-back for his club but he’s a fantastic hurler and he’s after turning into a big man almost overnight. He’s all the attributes to make the centre-forward spot his own”.
But it’s full-back where he feels Kilkenny must find a solution other than Pádraic Walsh. “Brian has said there is never such a thing as a settled team but hes’s going to have to find a full-back and get Pádraic Walsh out the field. Pádraic has done nothing wrong there but the benefits of him at half-back or midfield are incredible.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved