Thursday 8 December 2016

No time for 'Killer' to dwell on what might have been

Missing out on World Cup inclusion is driving Limerick prop to new heights in the red shirt

Daragh Small

Published 25/09/2015 | 02:30

Dave Kilcoyne reckons Munster have never recruited as well as they have done under Anthony Foley
Dave Kilcoyne reckons Munster have never recruited as well as they have done under Anthony Foley

Dave Kilcoyne played nearly two hours for Ireland in the warm-up internationals prior the World Cup, but he wasn't picked in Joe Schmidt's 31-man squad for the main event.

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It was a massive blow for the 15-time capped Ireland loosehead prop, but 'Killer' transformed it into an opportunity.

It was a chance to restart his studies, and the 26-year-old will spend the 2015-16 season as a student back in UL - as well as a Munster rugby player.

Kilcoyne previously completed an undergrad in Business at the University, majoring in Accounting and Finance.

His rugby career took over in the meantime, but after a few years away from education, he will study a Masters in Business Project Management.

It's set to be a busy few months for the former UL Bohemians clubman. He might not be a part of the Ireland set-up right now, but Kilcoyne doesn't have to time to contemplate what might have been.

"You can call it hard done by, but I wouldn't read too much into not being picked," he says. "The coaches go with what they think, and you have got to back their decision.

"In this game, you don't have time to be waiting around, wondering if you were hard done by or not.

"I found out and straight away I was looking forward to getting back and tearing into it with Munster - you have to draw positives where you can.

"Munster were happy to have me back. They welcomed me with open arms and I was delighted to get back, and try and give the boys a lift in any way I could."

He played 53 minutes as Munster claimed a priceless 20-18 victory away to Ospreys, and the team's reward was a week-long break from training, while the World Cup kicked into gear at Twickenham.

Ireland began their journey with a comprehensive win over Canada. And although Kilcoyne could have been involved in the Millennium Stadium, he concentrated on the task at hand with his province.

"It is obviously frustrating to watch Ireland play in the World Cup. You always want to be playing on the biggest stage," he says.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time in camp and thought I acquitted myself well in the warm-up games. But that is just the nature of sport.

"You can't dwell on these things. I am more firmly focused on getting ready for Glasgow and the challenge that awaits us here, with Munster."

Perfect

It's been the perfect start to the season for Munster - two wins from two games, leaving them third in the Pro12 standings.

And what a difference a year can make: Munster lost their opener to Edinburgh 14-13 at Thomond Park in 2014-15. That was the first time the Reds had lost three in a row at the Limerick venue.

Kilcoyne is confident the team are in a much better place now. He attributes that to the work Anthony Foley did in pre-season, before he the launch of his second season in charge.

"Credit to Axel in the recruiting we did this year. In my time with Munster they have never recruited as well. And if you look down through the years, they have never brought in such good players," he says.

"Francis Saili, Mark Chisholm and Tyler Bleyendaal - we have Jordan Coghlan and a couple of other lads too, but the three foreign signings added a huge dimension to the game.

"I thought they all played extremely well against Ospreys. But that is the advantage you have when you have a top international player as head coach.

"They know the talent is out there and they know what the team needs. He has played for Munster and he knew where they needed to recruit."

Munster lost last season's Pro12 final to Glasgow in Kingspan Stadium, and they seem determined to right that wrong this term. And with the Warriors next up, 'Killer' cannot wait to get his chance to avenge that painful memory.

His opportunities for first-team action were hindered by a ligament injury in his left knee in 2014-15. But after a strong end to last season, he wants to continue on from where he left off.

The first aim is to retain the No 1 jersey - ahead of the stiff competition from fellow Irish international James Cronin and the dynamic John Ryan.

"There is competition everywhere. The two guys are great players as well. I am always one to look forward, though, not around me. I am just trying to improve every day," he says.

"I look in-house at how I can get better, in what ways I can add value to the team. I just always focus on myself and I just try to push on with that.

"I was happy with my performance against Ospreys, but I am never fully happy. Being a pro you owe it to yourself to be your harshest critic, and I probably am that.

"There are areas that I could have been better on. But I contributed to the team well in the last match. I am as fit as I have ever been right now.

"It was perfect at the end of last season - I played a lot of big games; the quarter-final, semi-final and final of the Pro12.

"And then we had all of pre-season. So I had a really good chance to get on top of it.

"There was the warm-up internationals as well. So I have a good bit of rugby played already this season, and I want more."

Irish Independent

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