Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin isn’t keen on the ‘hot favourites for the All-Ireland’ tag, despite his side’s destruction of Cork in the league final last Sunday.
“Yeah but look, ye (in the media) have to sell papers, don’t ye? Ye have to say something. The championship is wide open, I don’t think favourites come into it. We’ll just have to work hard and I’m sure Cork will be doing the exact same, going home and working hard and trying to get through to the Munster final and then through to the All-Ireland series.”
Larkin was surprised by Kilkenny’s 14-point winning margin: “I was to be honest. The score did not reflect the game. It was very physical out there and Cork did not let anything away handy. We were lucky we got the few breaks in front of goal and that gave us the bit of breathing space.
“As we said in the dressing room before it, we were just concentrating on getting a good performance out of it because we had been up and down in the league and we wanted to get the performance and thankfully we did.”
Was Sunday as good a performance as Kilkenny have given?
“I’m not sure, there have been a few of them,” said Larkin. “We’re delighted with the win, delighted with the performance but the real deal starts in seven weeks’ time and there is a lot more work that has to go in for that.”
The James Stephens’ clubman said injuries or a desire for revenge after the league loss to Cork weren’t major factors for Kilkenny.
“We were just concentrating on our own performance today and we were lucky enough to get a couple of goals that gave us a bit of breathing space.
“We were able to tack on a few points in the second-half and kill the game off.”
Larking paid tribute to the Kilkenny youngsters: “It’s all about the youth coming in. You can have lads there for a couple of years and things get stale. When you have young lads coming in and doing as well as they are after doing, it is a huge boost to everyone.
“Cillian Buckley the last day was very good and Richie Doyle is going to be another good hurler. The two of them are fitness fanatics and are huge into hurling as well. They have great ability and they will be there or thereabouts come the summer.”
Meanwhile Cork’s Conor Lehane confirmed that Sunday’s game was the highest-intensity game he’s played.
“Definitely, just the way they played, the way they surrounded us, we just had no space. It was very tough to play against, but we’ll just have to counteract that someday. That’s the highest level you can play at and if we can get to that level there’d be no stopping us.
“There was (talk about Cork before game) but that’s gone now, it’s in the past. We’ll have to move on to the summer.”
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