THE lessons have been learned from their Leinster final loss.
Now, Michael Rice says Kilkenny have put to bed the disappointment of relinquishing their provincial title, and are hoping to make good on those errors as they get ready to face Limerick in the All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-final in Semple Stadium this Sunday.
It was the Cats’ first loss in the Leinster Championship since June 13 2004, when Wexford claimed a 2-15 to 1-16 semi-final win. It was Rice’s second-ever championship loss with the squad.
“You don’t want to think about the defeat to Galway too much,” he said. “You have to realise though that we were beaten very comprehensively by a very good Galway team.
“Where did it go wrong? I don’t know. Galway being very good is obviously a start and we just have to try and get back training hard now and work hard on things.
“There are very few teams that can go through their careers without having a loss. We just have to try and get back on the horse and see how it goes.”
Club action has taken the focus since that defeat, something which was a welcome distraction according to Rice.
“It’s great to get back to the club,” he said.
“Games were organised and I think everyone was happy with that. We came back last week to the county squad for training and it’s just about doing it now on the field of play, rather than talking about anything.”
While there were positives to take from that Leinster final defeat, including a strong second half display, it was cold comfort for Rice and his colleagues.
“Possibly so, but overall losing regardless is disappointing,” he said.
“We stayed fighting for it, but we still lost by 10 points so it’s hard to take positives from it really.”
Injury has dogged Rice of late, but he was sprung from the bench in that Leinster decider, and is glad to be back in action.
“It was just a case of being out for a long spell and probably the Leinster final came just that little bit too quickly for me, but I was delighted to get on,” he said. “That was where my delight ended unfortunately.”
All the focus now for Kilkenny is to get their campaign back on track, something the Carrickshock man believes won’t be too easy against Limerick on Sunday.
“I saw them against Tipperary - in reality another score from Limerick when they were seven or eight points up would have done the job,” he said.
“They are obviously up there again, as they were last year when they did well against Dublin. Limerick are building nicely and they will have to be taken very seriously. We know that there is a huge battle ahead of us.
“From what we can see so far they have been racking up massive scores in the last three matches,” he added. “Limerick have always been physical back through the years and are a strong, physical team.”
Tipperary lie in wait at the semi-final stage, but Rice isn’t looking to another clash with the Premier County just yet.
“We won’t be looking at a semi-final at all because we have Limerick in the quarter-final,” he said. “There hasn’t been any talk of that just yet.”
While it’s heartbreaking not to be through to another All-Ireland semi-final off the back of being provincial champions, Rice takes some comfort from having a major game so soon after the loss to Galway.
“It’s a nice incentive to have a game coming up so soon for us, as opposed to the long wait we are used to,” he said. “We really won’t know until the day if we will do it.
“It’s on the day you find that out. We will be doing our best in training to ensure that we have a good kick-back.”