OF all the arduous comebacks mounted by Kilkenny players this year (think Henry Shefflin annual slog and TJ Reid's knee-cap) Michael Rice's might just be the most compelling.
The finger most directly connected with by the hurley of Tipperary's Pádraic Maher was shattered into pieces, divided between those big enough to withstand the insertion of screws (seven) and, as he explained last year, "other little bits".
"I'd a long old stint out so just to be back playing hurling is really enjoyable at the moment," he insisted, having made a comeback to playing with Kilkenny in their victory over Clare and then sustaining a spot in midfield for both the league semi-final and final.
"My hurling wasn't properly back but it was definitely a great boost to get going again and to get the start. These kind of frustrations when you're coming back from injury mean I'm probably not up there where I'd like to be."
"Obviously, if we hadn't reached that, we wouldn't have been hurling and we might have had a relegation final. It was great to get two good hard matches against Galway and Tipperary. Then I could realise that I can do this again and play."
And thus far, Rice insists he has had no adverse psychological reaction to his ordeal.
"That would be in your head, would I go into tackles?," he admitted.
"But I'm happy enough that I'm going into tackles and probably getting knocked back out of it as well.
"It's just getting back playing hurling naturally and your movement on the pitch and your confidence in that rather than anything to do with my hand."