KILKENNY ARE IN unfamiliar territory — an All-Ireland quarter-final — but Michael Rice reckons the humbling defeat at the hands of Galway last time out will see them into the last four.
The All-Ireland champions face Limerick in Thurles on Sunday after a humbling defeat in the Leinster SHC decider last time out, which split open the championship.
The Carrickshock clubman reckons, however, that the loss will help the Noresiders this weekend.
“Every player hates to lose and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a League game or a Leinster final. Hopefully there’s a bit of hurt there,” he told TheScore.ie this week. “We probably have to adjust slightly, it’s an extra match and a very serious match for us. We can’t look beyond this match; we can’t be worrying about a semi-final because we have a quarter-final to play.”
And though the defeat to Galway in the provincial final was an unfamiliar lash, Rice reckons it won’t leave a long-term scar on Brian Cody’s outfit.
“I don’t tend to think too much about, to be honest with you, whether it’s going to effect me mentally or physically. It just means we’re back in training and we would have been back in training anyway. We’re back in and there’s a match coming up very quickly so we just have to focus on that very quickly,” he says.
Rice is on track to regain his place in Brian Cody’s XV for the game against John Allen’s Treaty side having recovered from a troublesome knee injury. The injury disrupted his league campaign and having missed the tail-end of the victorious campaign trotted on at Croke Park, charged with steadying the ship against Galway even before half time.
“Lads were saying to me that I must have been delighted to get on the field after the injury. I was delighted with that, but that’s where my delight ended. Whether I played well or not doesn’t matter — we got a serious hammering. I was happy to get back, but that’s where it stopped,” he says.
And what of Limerick? Rice says he’s been impressed by their progression, first under Donal O’Grady and now fellow Corkman, Allen this season.
“The last time I saw them was the game against Tipp (Munster quarter-final),” he says. “That was very impressive from them. They had a chance for a goal in the second half and had they got that it was probably game over. That shows how close they are. They ran Dublin very close last year and everyone was saying Dublin are contenders. That obviously puts Limerick on a very high standing.”