Richie Power had more of a mind to talk about his club colleague, Michael Rice than the upcoming All-Ireland hurling final. No stranger to injury at crucial stages of the season, he more than most would know how Michael Rice was feeling, writes Barrie Henriques.
He went through the trauma of not knowing that he would be capable of playing with the Kilkenny team after an injury in a club game showed all the symptoms of serious cruciate injury. Thankfully in his case, the problem was solved, much to the satisfaction of all involved in the Kilkenny team and Management. But no such luck for the unfortunate Michael.
When he takes time out to assess the year, he will see a very unfair sending off against Cork. He sustained an injury in the league against O’Loughlin’s that initially gave rise to speculation that it was season threatening. We wondered if those setbacks gave rise to the idea that maybe this is going to be a bad year for Richie Power.
“That’s sport really,” he smiled. “One day you are up, with everything going according to hope, the next you are on your uppers. The Cork incident was just one of those things, and while people can speculate about the decision, it happened and you get on with it. The injury against O’Loughlin’s was more worrying initially.
“I went straight to the cryotherapy unit on the Sunday, and that didn’t seem to work. I was then directed to Tadhg O’Sullivan in the Whitfield Clinic, and while I was dreading the news, Tadhg told me immediately after examination that my cruciate was OK, that the damage was purely ligament. I breathed a sigh of relief I can tell you, because well I remember talking to Henry and Tenno (John Tennyson) about their experiences for an entire year, and I certainly didn’t relish that scenario.”
Back to M. Rice.
Injuries of any severity are the bane of a player’s life. Their impact is like an atomic mushroom. The county team suffers. The Ccub team suffers. Whilst the County team are numerically better placed to replace, not so the Club team. Over the years, Carrickshock, above all others, have been dealt many severe blows, which have cost them dearly.
John Tennyson, Michael Rice, Richie Power, and now Michael again. Initial comment would indicate that he is out for the All-Ireland final, and there is speculation that he will not play for Carrickshock either. That is a tough blow Richie?
“It’s a hell of a blow for everyone - county, club, but most importantly for the man himself,” Richie reminded. “I feel so sorry for him, because he is, in my opinion, the most complete player imaginable. He really is the perfect hurler. He does everything right, and never leaves anything to chance. He plays as hard as anybody on the pitch, leaving everything in his ability to do so on the hurling field. It is just heart-breaking for him at this stage.
“You wouldn’t wish missing the All-Ireland final on your worst enemy, but when it comes down to a club mate and a friend, it really is dreadful. But the words he spoke in the dressing-room at half-time before he was moved to hospital were some of the most inspirational words I have ever heard. It was hugely emotional, and inspirational. He appealed to us all to give him a chance to play in the final by leaving it all on the pitch. You would have gone through stone walls for the man at that stage.”
Richie spoke briefly about the innovative ‘Kilkenny Way’, which involves other clubs outside the county being coached, and spoken to by hurling luminaries from Kilkenny.
“I think it is a tremendous idea, which could have far-reaching values,” said the All-Star. “ I know my dad (Richie senior) did some coaching with the Tipperary camogie team recently. I suppose Kilkenny hurling is now a brand, and it is great that these clubs can come to our county, have some coaching, and take what they have learned away with them. It helps to spread the hurling gospel, the greatest game in the world.”
To the question about there being a different mind set this time round to others, as Kilkenny came through the back door, Richie had this to say: “Realistically, it was a matter of one extra game. The thing that I was glad for was the availability of the back door. It gave us a second chance. You must appreciate that we prepare for every game as if it were our last.
Hurling talk in the house
“Nothing changes in that regard. We had a tough battle against Limerick in Thurles, and we were fortunate to get a couple of goals in the second half that saw us through. Whilst people expected us to be facing Tipp in the All Ireland Final, we got them in the semi-final, so that was a difference”
Given that he is a member of a hurling mad family, how does he handle that, and does it affect him in any way?
“Of course the topic in the house is hurling, and what’s wrong with that. I can tell you this with honesty; There is no chance you would get big-headed in our house, because if my Mother didn’t bring you to heel, you can bet that John, or Jamie would, and by the time they would finish, you would have Susanne, and Stephanie waiting in the wings. There is nothing too wrong with hype, as long as you stay grounded, and I have Dad, who has been there many times, and he is terrific help in that regard”.
And then he has Ruairi!
“My son Ruairi is a great help too,” he said as happiness showed through every pore. “I don’t spend enough quality time with him, but every moment is precious. He will be at the Final again this year, and maybe he will remember something from it. Like most players we all have different incentives to play well and win. He is a welcome attraction at All-Ireland time. Ruairi is very much part of my life,” he smiled.
Were you surprised with the Galway performance in the Leinster final?
“Not at all,” he assured. “Galway will always bring a game with them, because they are great hurlers. The intensity, which is a hallmark of all Galway teams was unbelievable on the day, and quite simply we just couldn’t get up there with them. And it will be no different in the Final. They know what we are capable of and we certainly know about them.
“There is no point in the world in trying to anticipate what they will bring to the table. As Brian preaches, we will do our job. We will prepare for it to the best of our abilities. We won’t worry about what kind of plans they will bring. We will get our game together, get onto the pitch, and do our utmost to win the game.
“No more than that I can tell you, because I am not a fortune teller. I don’t know what will happen, but before the whistle starts the game it is an even 50/50 game. I expect it could be a classic, because there are great hurlers on both sides. Hurling needs a classic All-Ireland final. This could tick all the boxes.”