The Kilkenny hurlers were glad to wave goodbye to a disappointing 2017 and selector Derek Lyng says they are looking forward to the new year with renewed optimism.
The Cats are out on Bord na Mona Walsh Cup duty against Laois tonight (throw-in brought forward to 7pm) and they are determined to prove their doubters wrong.
"We didn't perform to the levels that we'd expected in Kilkenny last year, definitely not," Lyng said in an interview with The Irish Independent.
"That's, as I said, that's just the nature of it. It's very competitive. If you look at the championship last year, it was massively competitive. You have Clare, Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Dublin, Limerick are U-21 champions now and of course Wexford.
"So everybody will fancy beating each other now, that's the way it is. Your preparation has to be spot on. You need a bit of luck with injuries. It's a challenge but really looking forward to it."
He concluded: "We've no divine right to be in All-Ireland finals, semi-finals, every year. You have to earn that right and we just didn't do it."