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Joyce doesn't believe club commitments will hinder his Cats chances

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Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny

Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny

SPORTSFILE

Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny

WHILE Saturday's All-Ireland club IHC final clash with Galway's Kilnadeema-Leitrim has his complete focus, Kieran Joyce would be forgiven if he was keeping one eye on the goings-on in the Kilkenny camp.

Joyce hasn't been back involved with the Cats since their July exit from the championship as Rower Instioge's run to Saturday's AIB All-Ireland final has taken centre stage.

And with the rest of the hurling world expecting some form of backlash from Brian Cody's men, Joyce agrees Kilkenny are entering a different world in 2014.

"Everything's changing and it's going to be a wide open championship again this year," Joyce said.

"It's great for the game, it's great for the spectators, everyone's kind of looking forward to it. I won't be looking anywhere past Saturday and once that happens we'll see where it goes from there."

Joyce is unlikely to be involved in the league opener against Clare but he doesn't believe his run in the club championship will hinder his chances of getting back into the side with players out to impress the new-look management team that includes Derek Lyng and James McGarry.

MOTORING

"That happens every year. You see it there down through the years with the Ballyhale lads when they come back in. You just try and get it back into your system again and just get motoring. Every year it's a blank canvas, you're going to be fighting for your position and it's just a matter of getting your name in and try and mark down your spot and hold onto it and hopefully have an injury-free season."

On Saturday, Rower Inistioge are looking to follow in the footsteps of another Kilkenny side Clara, who won this competition last year before going on to claim a county senior title.

And after finally getting over the line and winning the Kilkenny intermediate title after a few near misses, Joyce is looking forward to the "special" chance to play in Croke Park with his club.

"It's completely different. When you play with your county it's an honour because you are representing Kilkenny. When you play with your club, it's a bit more special.

"It's a different emotion as well because you are so involved with the club all year round. You start off with the club and they kind of make you. You want to give everything for the club and to win with them – after a long gap – this year was very special.

"This time last year you wouldn't have thought we'd be getting ready to play in Croke Park.

"The way last year ended up with Kilkenny it was great to get a good run with the club and hopefully we can finish it off now."

Irish Independent