Man-of-match award sinking in for Joyce

All-Ireland hurling final hero aims to keep winning run going with Rower Inistioge in Kilkenny championship

Rower Inistioge star Kieran Joyce  pictured at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Championships in Dublin. “We’ve only come up from intermediate last year, and I suppose that still creates a good bit of momentum and excitement.” Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

Rower Inistioge star Kieran Joyce pictured at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Championships in Dublin. “We’ve only come up from intermediate last year, and I suppose that still creates a good bit of momentum and excitement.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Nearly one month later and Kieran Joyce is still trying to figure out how he ended up man- of-the-match in the All- Ireland hurling final replay. Joyce wasn’t even expected to start, given he didn’t feature at all in the drawn game, and his only other appearance in the Kilkenny defence all summer was in the drawn Leinster semi-final against Galway, back in June.

Joyce did repeat an unusual trend, given the honour in the previous two hurling final replays also went to players who didn’t start the drawn game – Clare’s Shane O’Donnell in 2013, and Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh in 2012. What is certain is that his fairytale season continues, as his club, Rower Inistioge, are still in the hunt for a Kilkenny county title, having drawn with Carrickshock in the quarter-final over the weekend.

“We’ve only come up from intermediate last year, and I suppose that still creates a good bit of momentum and excitement,” says Joyce, speaking at the launch of the 2014 AIB club championship at Croke Park. Indeed by winning the All-Ireland intermediate title earlier this year, Joyce was forced to delay his return to the county set-up, which in turn possibly affected him in nailing down a starting place.

Roasting

Joey HoldenBrian Cody

Still, despite starting in the drawn Leinster semi-final against Galway – where Kilkenny surrendered a comfortable lead late on – Joyce suddenly dropped out of favour. The next time he was named to start was for the All-Ireland final replay, unexpectedly positioned at centre back, in place of Brian Hogan.

Hunches

By the time the replay came around, Joyce expected his time to start had come. “Within the training matches, to decide, you know you’d be in contention. You’d be swapping around with the possibles and probables, that kind of thing. Then Brian would come and say a quiet word – you’re in contention to start, get your head focused – that kind of thing.”

Still, he never expected to be singled out after the replay win over Tipperary to collect his man-of-the-match award: “Well, Pádraig Walsh had a fantastic game in the replay. He was man-of-the- match for me . . . I was very, very, surprised, but delighted too.”

Joyce fully expects Cody to be back in charge for 2015 and beyond, although he’s not so sure about the likes of Shefflin or Tommy Walsh: “You’d be hoping they would. I love playing with them, and even in training you sometimes step back and look at the things they do. It’s purely up to them now.”

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