Ahead of the 2018 hurling season news of Kieran Joyce’s inter-county retirement came as a shock to the hurling world.
Despite retiring at the tender age of 30, the Rower-Inistioge clubman enjoyed a fruitful career, winning four All-Ireland titles and three Leinster Championships to name just a few of his many achievements.
Joyce was first drafted into the Kilkenny squad in 2009, a period when talented, experienced Kilkenny defenders were in abundance. Players such as Jackie Tyrelll, JJ Delaney, Tommy Walsh, Michael Kavanagh and Brian Hogan had cemented their places in Cody’s starting XV.
An already difficult task wasn’t helped by a hamstring injury which further diminished his chances, so Joyce decided to travel to America to work during the summer of 2010.
For Joyce, that decision to travel to America would serve as a moment of severe importance. In Boston, he reignited a love of hurling, appreciated the GAA’s traditional values and returned to the Kilkenny set-up with a drive and renewed motivation.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People, Joyce discussed the importance that decision made on his career.
“I knew coming home I needed to get things going the following year if it was ever going to happen for me. I knew the hamstring injury had hurt my chances before. Going to the US helped me clear my head. The matches over there were 13-a-side and that helped me in terms of mobility and so on.
“The American experience helped make me into a senior hurler. It got my mind together and taught me not to take anything for granted. Boston, and seeing how hard people worked for the game there, gave me a whole new appreciation of the game, of the work people put into it.
“Coming back and seeing the county being beaten in the final got me think maybe I could make it.”
Joyce rejoined Cody’s side in 2011 and found himself on the All-Ireland winning squad, but he would have to wait until the following year to make his championship debut.
A number of key inter-county defenders have went into retirement since then, and coincided with his passion to start, Joyce became a crucial member to Cody’s side where he prominently featured in the half-back line for the Cats.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena