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Cats will 'learn' from leaking four goals

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Injured Kilkenny stars Henry Shefflin, left, and Michael Fennelly at O'Connor Park. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

Injured Kilkenny stars Henry Shefflin, left, and Michael Fennelly at O'Connor Park. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

Kieran Joyce. Picture: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Kieran Joyce. Picture: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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Injured Kilkenny stars Henry Shefflin, left, and Michael Fennelly at O'Connor Park. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

KIERAN JOYCE has vowed that the Kilkenny defence will bounce back from Sunday's - bittersweet victory over Offaly which saw the Cats cough up four goals in a Championship match for the first time in three years.

Such a concession hasn't happened since the 2010 All-Ireland final defeat by Tipperary and only three times during Brian Cody's 14-and-a-half-year reign – they leaked five to Galway in 2005.

But Joyce, who wasn't involved in either of the above defeats, declared: "They were genuine mistakes and we'll learn from it. We'll go back and we'll talk about it and we'll take a few lessons from it.

"It's all a learning curve and it's the first (Championship) game of the year.

"As long as we got the win, that's the most important thing," he added, reflecting on Kilkenny's surprisingly topsy-turvy 0-26 to 4-9 success in Tullamore.

That tees up the champions for a Leinster semi-final date with either Dublin or Wexford on Sunday week, knowing there is ample scope for improvement, especially at the back.

Joyce was Kilkenny's standout performer in this sector, dominating his domain on the left flank, but even he found himself dispossessed by Joe Bergin in the lead-up to Offaly's third goal, scored by Dan Currams.

"Backs don't want to concede goals, so all the backs are disappointed after conceding the goals, but look, we're delighted with the win," the Rower Inistioge clubman reiterated.

"We always knew it was going to be tough coming up to Tullamore."

Joyce also maintained that, in the current injury-enforced absence of Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly, Kilkenny still have enough big personalities to propel their provincial quest, having lost their Leinster crown to Galway last summer.

"The thing is, there are so many leaders there – the likes of Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney, Brian Hogan, they're all leaders and always have been," he reminded.

"With the knock-backs and setbacks we've had over the last couple of years, Henry and Michael are in there and encouraging us the whole time. I know they can't be on the pitch, but their leadership is seen inside in the dressing room."


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