Sending right message key to TJ Reid’s success

Body language says it all for Kilkenny’s comeback king and All-Ireland winner

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid has been named the GAA/GPA Hurler of the Month for Sepetember. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid has been named the GAA/GPA Hurler of the Month for Sepetember. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

 

“Body language,” says TJ Reid, perhaps not realising he’s spilling some secrets. He’s describing in a roundabout way what turned the All-Ireland hurling final in Kilkenny’s favour, when a certain Tommy Walsh comes up.

The last thing any Kilkenny hurler would admit to, all season, is any influence of those who had retired from the previous year: Walsh, Henry Shefflin, JJ Delaney, Brian Hogan etc. Only when Kilkenny found themselves three points down at half-time, in last month’s final against Galway, someone, somewhere, mentioned Tommy Walsh: “None of the boys were brought up, well, maybe once or twice,” says Reid.

“Tommy always spoke about body language and spirit, using that on the hurling field. In the All-Ireland final against Galway, that body language and spirit wasn’t there. That was addressed at half-time. And we came out a different team.”

Indeed they did - but it seems there were other things motivating Kilkenny this season, too. When asked about Brian Cody staying on (“definitely”, says Reid), he also hints at some of the things that keep motivating Cody, as he heads into what will be his 17th season as manager.

“He’s retired from his (teaching) principal duties, now so he’s 100 per cent on hurling every day now,” says Reid. “He’s nothing else to be doing in his free time. So I would say 100 per cent that he’s coming back.”

And why does he keep coming back?

“What drives him, I think, is the challenge of people putting Kilkenny down. I suppose the supporters putting us down last year. We had all those retirements. There were questions marks about the Kilkenny team. Who are the leaders? Will the leaders step up to it? There was question marks there would Joey Holden be able to fill JJ’s spot. Even our own supporters were wondering. That was the motivation this year. Because all those leaders went.”

“He’s driven, hates losing, and likes that challenge of competing against great teams. And the public, the media, didn’t write us down for the All-Ireland either. At the start of the year we were way down the pecking order. We were in the relegation final. That was a huge motivation. Once we got together before the Leinster semi-final, we had eight weeks. We went to Carton House as well for a weekend, and all believed that there was an All-Ireland final in us. If you don’t believe that, there is no point going training.”

Reid has some other secrets to tell - or rather Shefflin has for him. Because in his recent autobiography, Shefflin reveals how he effectively talked Reid out of retirement, during the 2012 season, when then 24 year-old Reid was struggling to nail down a starting place. He was dropped for the quarter-final win over Limerick, but thanks to Shefflin’s advice, took that knock on the chin. He finished 2012 with an All Star.

Only now, as GAA/GPA hurler of the month for September, and nominated for hurler of the year, Reid can reflect positively on that period. “I don’t really like talking about it, but I suppose that’s the past. I was frustrated. I was been taken off, getting dropped here and there. As a player, as a young hurler, you just want to be hurling. I was getting annoyed about it. For that game against Limerick I was dropped, was annoyed over it, and I was thinking about retiring.

“I would be very good friends with Henry. He sat me down and spoke to me. So it was my choice then. I suppose what turned it was that I loved it so much and it would have been hard to walk away from it. I think it was a stepping stone. I came into the set-up as a young man. The Kilkenny team was evolving Brian Cody was evolving as well in terms of having a ruthless streak in him.

“So I spoke to Brian about it as well. Maybe I opened up to Brian, about how I felt about it. After that incident I went on, we won the All-Ireland and I got an All-Star. I suppose some players are maybe afraid to open up to Brian, about how you feel about the set-up. I opened up and I think after that I’m after becoming a different player.”

Not that he’s anywhere near his peak: “Well, the motivation is to win again. Those five minutes after winning an All-Ireland final, there’s not better feeling. We keep training very simple. We don’t use GPS monitors. There’s a lot of talk about how Kilkenny keep doing it, but we keep it simple. There is no 100 cones around the field. We keep it as intense as we can and if training is slack we pick it up or if Brian sees it he’ll pick it up as well.”

And that’s no secret at all.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.