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'I was close' - Eoin Larkin considered calling it quits earlier this year

The Kilkenny forward endured a tough season with injuries.

Kilkenny forward Eoin Larkin.
Kilkenny forward Eoin Larkin.

A DIFFICULT YEAR for Eoin Larkin had a happy ending on Sunday when he helped Kilkenny to retain their All-Ireland senior hurling title at the expense of Galway.

The 1-22 to 1-18 victory at Croke Park gave Larkin his ninth All-Ireland medal, but the veteran forward has admitted that he was on the verge of quitting earlier in the year.

Larkin’s season began with surgery on a groin injury, followed by a bout of glandular fever. His subsequent absences from the panel left the 31-year-old disillusioned.

“I was close, to be honest. There’s no point in saying I wasn’t,” Larkin said, when asked if his injury troubles in 2015 left him considering his future as a Kilkenny hurler.

“I was after having a frustrating start to the year with injury, then glandular fever. But [winning the All-Ireland] makes it all worthwhile. That’s why I made the decision to stick around.”

Two weeks before the All-Ireland final, while Kilkenny were in Fota Island for a training weekend, injury struck again. This time it was a broken thumb. The culprit?

“Michael Fennelly. I was saying that if he was training all year he would have gotten rid of the ball; I wouldn’t have got near him to hook him,” Larkin joked. “I just went in to hook him, went in a bit far. I knew I was in trouble as soon as it happened.”

The injury led to a stressful build-up to the clash with Galway for Larkin. He spent nine days in a cast, which was only removed on the Tuesday before the game. Nevertheless, the James Stephens clubman played all 70 minutes and chipped in with 0-2.

Brian Cody celebrates with Eoin Larkin Eoin Larkin celebrates with Kilkenny manager Brian Cody after Sunday's defeat of Galway. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It was [stressful] and it could have affected me, but from the time I got the injury I wanted to try and focus and get fit and play in the All-Ireland final,” Larkin said.

“If I was going to let an injury come in the way of that I wouldn’t have been focused on the game and it wouldn’t have been fair on Brian [Cody] or the lads to do that. So I just had to put the injury to the back of my mind and try and train the way I could train — really focus on the game, and that is what I did.”

Larkin, who’s part of the Irish Defence Forces, departs for a peacekeeping mission to Syria next month and he won’t return until early April. What does that mean for his place on the Kilkenny panel in 2016?

He said: “I’m not making any decisions yet. I’ll just take the winter as it comes and have a chat with Brian before I go and probably during it.”

Jackie Tyrrell is uncertain about returning to challenge for a 10th All-Ireland medal in 2016

Cody: ‘The mix for club and county is wrong and club players are suffering’

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Paul Dollery

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