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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Dave holds head up high

Kearney could be set for battle with Connacht's hitman Healy

Leinster wing Dave Kearney
Leinster wing Dave Kearney

Dave Kearney has a mild, forgiving nature.

He files away dubious acts of violence on the pitch with a charitable "these things happen."

When France captain Guilhem Guirado came out of nowhere, the Ireland wing was disabused of his try-taking thoughts at Stade de France last month.

"I didn't see him at all. I thought I was straight through a hole, but he came from the blindside and lined me up," said Kearney.

The dangerousness of the hit was outdone by the official reaction to it.

There was none. The Leinster man had missed out on all of the 2015 Six Nations with injury.

The attempted guillotining, whether deliberate or not, cost him more than three-fifths of 2016.

"It was just shocking timing," he said about last month.

"The same as the year before; I did my other shoulder against Wasps literally the week before the Six Nations.

"The only positive was that I got to be involved for two games as opposed to none the year before. That was really it."

The difference this year is that Ireland were playing for the motivation of the shirt rather than the gold medal.

"You're missing out on winning trophies and getting another medal, of course it was more difficult (last year).

Missing

"Otherwise, it's very similar. You're still missing out on games, on playing for your country."

It wasn't the first time Kearney nearly had his head removed from his shoulders.

There was the Paul O'Connell boot-to-head that had then Leinster coach Joe Schmidt up in arms for what happened in the heat of the moment of an Inter-provincial match.

In fact, these very local disputes offer up the best opportunity for what lies ahead.

There is the considerable matter of making the plane to South Africa for three international tests in June.

This process restarts this weekend in the PRO12 League.

Schmidt has already noted "the edge" to the Inter-provincial derbies as reason to taken them on merit.

Kearney might even have to remind everyone of his standing in Irish rugby against the PRO12's leading try-scorer in Matt Healy.

The Connacht left wing was even invited out to Carton House during the Six Nations on foot of his finishing prowess.

"Yeah, he's had a really good season," said Kearney.

"I would have grown up playing with Matt in Leinster Schools, Ireland Schools, in the Academy, at Lansdowne.

"He's a really powerful runner, quick, good acceleration, and he's had a great season as well.

"You want to play against the best wingers."

It should make for very interesting viewing in Galway for Leinster ad for Ireland.

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