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Leinster's Dave Kearney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile

Leinster's Dave Kearney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile

Leinster's Dave Kearney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile

HANDS up those amongst us who have ever looked forward to that first day back at work? Throw into the mix that it is a bleak and miserable March Monday afternoon and it's your busiest day of the week? Still no hands.

Dave Kearney, though, is in good form on this first Monday back to work and looks remarkably fresh and rested for a man just off the training pitch after a demanding session in Rosemount. Throw into the mix that this is a man that played every minute of every game in the Six Nations and all the ups and downs that that entailed, it is no mean feat.

Though first called in to the Irish set up in 2011, it is in this season that the numbers have really stacked up. During the autumn there were two caps, the first from the bench against Samoa, the second for the start against the All Blacks. There were also two tries to boot. Fast forward to the Six Nations, make that another five starts. Four wins. But the most important number of all; one elusive and much sought-after piece of silverware.

Since the euphoria of Paris there was a short break in Portugal to rest up, but you can't beat being home and home for Dave and brother Rob is Louth. It is where the football started with Cooley Kickhams and the rugby started with Dundalk and it was the one place on both their radars when they touched down on Sunday.

"Unbelievably special – we brought the trophy home on Tuesday and nipped in to Lily Finegans for a quiet celebration with close family and friends. A great spot and even greater when you have something like that to celebrate. But it is unbelievably special, and to do it all with your older brother by your side is unique and it is a moment that will be cherished."

Without wishing to over-egg the point, it is well made by the younger Kearney brother and they join a list of Championship winning brothers that includes the Hastings (Scotland – 1990), the Leslies (Scotland – 1999), the Underwoods (England – 1995) and the Lievremonts (France – 1998). It is quite an exclusive list to be a part of.

"We don't have our own little calls or anything like that but we do probably understand each other that little bit better. Holding that trophy together was a huge high. Winning trophies at club level is difficult enough and to do so at national level it just goes up a notch. To have achieved some success with your brother at your side is not something that either of us takes lightly, but we've been lucky to have shared some incredible highs."

While the initial call to the national set up came in 2011 he had to be patient for that first cap but the start of the season played a big part, he feels.

"I suppose I hit the ground running in many ways. Matt (O'Connor) showed real faith in me in some big games and that stands to you. You play off that confidence that a coach has shown in you and you want to repay that. You also see the competition around you for the back three and you know that one slip up, however small, could be enough to allow someone else in. That edge really helps. Once you have that jersey – be it blue or green – you don't want to let it go."

Nor, I am sure, did he want to let the Six Nations trophy go but after the fun had been had it was time for the trophy, plus a few other Leinster players, to make a stop at Donnybrook for the Jack Kavanagh Trust game where unsurprisingly the trophy was well received but it was upstaged by an inspirational young man.

"It was a great night and I'm delighted that the event went as well as it did for Jack. He has shown incredible courage and I know the lads that were able to make it were delighted to do so."

The trophy has now been put to one side as there is the small matter of Munster today and the small matter of an away trip to France the week after, but that can wait. He's got Zebo and co for company first.

"While the break was lovely it has been easy to switch back on today. The thoughts of facing Munster does focus the mind and we have a lot of work to do. Things don't change hugely when you are away but there are subtle differences to calls and to shape that do take some adjusting.

"To be fair, the lads have performed brilliantly over the last five games in the PRO12 and it is up to everyone to ensure that the level of performance achieved over that space of time is maintained on Saturday."

It is hard to mention Munster without talk of the rivalry and the not so subtle rumblings coming from down South, but Kearney isn't overly concerned by it all.

Spice

"Of course there is extra spice and that comes with any of the inter-pro games. Yes, it is Leinster versus Munster but there are all the other little battles going on. Lads wanting to prove a point is of course a factor. Ultimately, both teams will want to perform and it just so happens that we know a lot of the opposition lads very well at this stage after eight or nine weeks of playing together."

Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray being a case in point. Two players that have played with Kearney at underage level and have now found themselves as team-mates at full Test level. Beyond that though, good mates.

"I actually roomed with Conor a bit over the last while so I'd know him very well and get on very well with him but ultimately, come Saturday in the Aviva, we'll both want the same thing. Best mates one week, knocking lumps the next. Something has to give..."

It remains to be seen though exactly what that is and who will give first.


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