FEW PLAYERS BETTER sum up the intense competition for very few places in Ireland’s national team during a period of massive success.
In a different era, a player of Dave Kilcoyne’s quality and power would surely have amassed a great deal more than 25 caps over the six years since his Test debut.
Unfortunately, the Munster man has been the man to miss out due to the exceptionally high bar set for Irish looseheads by Cian Healy and Jack McGrath, who both also earned Lions gear on the back of their exploits in green.
Given how regularly he appears in squads and one-off Tests it seems incredible that Saturday marked Kilcoyne’s first Six Nations appearance under Joe Schmidt
Before that, he last sampled the Championship away to Italy in 2013. Three weeks earlier, Kilcoyne was also in the squad when Declan Kidney’s side lost to Scotland in Murrayfield.
“It was a very tough day,” says the prop, “it was a bad day for Irish rugby, hopefully we will have better memories this week.”
While those of us outside the camp may feel the confidence blow delivered by England carries a danger of deflating Ireland, ‘Killer’ speaks with the innate hunger of a man who has relentlessly chased this honour. He has waited close to six full years for a taste of Six Nations rugby and he is determined to enjoy his next bite.
“I would say it just made me incredibly hungry. You want to be part of a winning Irish team, or an Irish team full stop. International rugby is the highest accolade and you want to be playing it. It created extreme hunger and you relish that.”
Although the focus required for this week’s Test will not allow his mind drift forward beyond the end of the Six Nations, Murrayfield is an important location for the Limerick man in the medium term as it will also be the venue for Munster’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at the tail end of March.
Laying down a marker and getting into the habit of winning on that turf would be handy intangible have in his favour. For now, though, the blinkers are on and only one result matters, a win to keep Ireland in contention for the Six Nations title and take some of the heat off after Saturday’s crushing loss toc England.
“That’s the beauty of this group. We tend to look forward. It’s about getting a win in Scotland and taking it from there. It’s about fixing the wrongs from last week and delivering this week.
”(England) is the first team Ireland has lost to in quite a while. It was sombre, downbeat mood after the game. At the same time, you have the luxury in rugby with a quick turnaround. We were honest with ourselves, but you have to dust yourself down quickly. Now it is all about preparing for Scotland.
“It’s an incredible stadium and the Scottish are proud supporters, quite like the Irish and really rally in behind their team. They will have a whole country behind them. It’s going to be a very tough Test.”
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