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'He's supremely talented, a nice lad to go with it' - Kildare days, Limerick return and semi-final star

David Reidy showed yesterday he has become a vital cog in the Limerick hurling machine.

Limerick's David Reidy with Galway's Johnny Coen.
Limerick's David Reidy with Galway's Johnny Coen.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Jul 4th 2022, 8:52 AM

FOUR YEARS AGO, David Reidy was sprung from the bench as an epic All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final involving Limerick was unfolding.

He got on the scoresheet in that game, chipping in with a point, and Limerick prevailed after extra-time against Cork.

It felt like a seismic day for the collective and the individual. For Limerick it was a major breakthrough in the evolution of their team to reach an All-Ireland decider. For Reidy it was a milestone to be hurling at such a level again with his native county.

In September 2016 John Kiely was installed as Limerick boss and that winter he began assembling his squad. Reidy was informed that he was not part of his plans but had earned a recall at the outset of the 2018 campaign.

He hasn’t looked back since. Yesterday he was again pressed into action during another thrilling All-Ireland semi-final Limerick were playing in. They were drawing with Galway when Reidy entered the game in the 61st minute. There was another 14 minutes of action before the final whistle was blown.

In that time frame Reidy knocked over three points from play and was fouled for a free Diarmaid Byrnes converted. With two minutes left in normal time the teams were level. There were only three points scored in the rest of the game, Reidy slotting over two of them off his left and then winning that free which Byrnes bombed over for the insurance score.

The Dromin-Athlacca man had made a towering contribution.

david-reidy Limerick hurler David Reidy. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

It is a decade since Reidy as a teenager won a Munster medal as a non-playing substitute in his maiden season with the Limerick senior hurlers. His underage career did not spark much success, his minor team of 2011 and U21 side of 2014 did not make their respective Munster finals. Dan Morrissey and Shane Dowling were part of his contemporaries. He hurled during a few fallow years for the Limerick seniors without nailing down a regular spot, before the overhaul when Kiely cut his squad.

And then came the twist in his hurling career for the 2017 season.

“We would have seen him when he was on the (senior) panel initially, we would have known he was on it and then I heard he got dropped off it at the end of 2016,” recalls Joe Quaid, the former Limerick netminder.

“I was above with the Kildare hurlers that time (as manager) and you were allowed three permit players, once they were working or living in the county.

“I wasn’t a believer that we should have brought in outside players but the panel was fairly light that year and a few of the players from Kildare said, ‘Can you get in players?’ “

At the time Reidy, a Fitzgibbon Cup winner with Mary Immaculate College in 2016, was teaching in Rathcoffey in north Kildare. Word filtered through to Quaid about where Reidy was based and thus he pounced.

“I rang him and I said to him, ‘Look, come down.’

“His brother Mikey was living there as well and working there. So I got the two lads to come down, spoke to them and I just said, ‘Look, come play with us, you’ll get the same training.’

“He’ll vouch for that, that the training was every bit as good. I said, ‘You’ll keep your eye in, you’ll keep your fitness levels up and you might get noticed up here and John Kiely might take notice of you again and ask you back in,’

“And that’s exactly what happened.”

Quaid never found himself dealing with a player who regarded himself as above the Christy Ring Cup. Reidy attacked the challenge with enthusiasm. Kildare bowed out at then quarter-final stage to Carlow, club commitments preventing Reidy lining out on that occasion, but overall his contribution was a worthwhile.

“He came up to us and he was outstanding,” recalls Quaid.

“Himself now, Mikey and John Mulhall really brought a different slant to training and showing the boys up there that this is the level we need to get to.

“I remember one night I put Reidy in marking Mark Moloney in training and Jaysus Moloney’s game even came up another couple of notches because it had to.

“He really, really embraced it, so he did. The three lads that came in really did. John Mulhall the same, Mikey the same.”

david-reidy-celebrates-winning-the-all-ireland-hurling-final David Reidy celebrates Limerick's 2020 All-Ireland final win. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

During this golden run for Limerick hurling as they been in such dominant form, Reidy’s role has been a striking one. From the start of 2018, Limerick have played 29 senior championship games. Reidy’s gametime has included two starts (Waterford in the 2020 Munster final and Clare in this year’s round-robin in the province) and 18 substitute appearances.

Of more relevance is the fact that the Cork game in Croke Park was his only appearance in 2018. Take the time frame from October 2020 when the Covid-delayed season began.

Reidy has featured in all 15 of Limerick’s championship games since then (two starts and 13 outings off the bench). His introductions have all been around the three-quarter mark or entering the last ten minutes of normal time. Scoring wise, his inputs have grown in prominence. He only notched 0-1 in 2020 before firing a point in three of last year’s four games, a season where he came on after the 61st minute in every game.

Then this year Reidy has raised one white flag in every game apart from that Clare match where he started and struck four pointed frees. Yesterday’s dazzling display elevated his contribution to fresh height.

“He’s exceptionally consistent in what he does coming off the bench for us, it’s something we value highly in the group,” remarked Kiely after yesterday’s game.

“There’s a huge amount of acknowledgement and significance given to that in the group, and that’s why fellas are aware of how important it is to the group as a whole, and why they’re happy to play that part for us. Long may that last.”

The super sub tag is not one desired by players yet Reidy appears to thrive in those scenarios and make an impact.

“Shane Dowling did it in ’18, it’s not an easy decision,” says Quaid.

“You’ve to be very disciplined and very committed to the cause to be able to play that role. To come on and make the impact that he made and he keeps making is phenomenal.

“He’s supremely talented, a nice lad to go with it. His work rate, his application, he’d be honest and that. Look to me he’s the type of player that fits in perfectly to that setup with the lads that I would have had underage – Cian and Sean Finn and Tom Morrissey and Aaron and them lads.

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“He’d be of the same kind of mindset as them lads, I had them for three years from U14 to U16 and he’d strike me as being similar type personality. Similar ambition and work rate. He’s John Kiely’s type of player.”

Being mentally sharp to hit the ground running during games is one trait, the resilience to resurrect his Limerick career is another.

“I suppose he got noticed number one,” reasons Quaid, when thinking of the Kildare days for Reidy.

“Maybe when he went back in, when he was asked back in the second time, probably I suppose he said, ‘Look I was there before, I lost my chance, I’m getting a second bite of the cherry here.’

david-reidy-lifts-the-liam-mccarthy-cup David Reidy lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2018. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’d say he just embraced it, took it with both hands and worked probably harder than he’d ever worked.”

In an interview before the 2018 All-Ireland final, Reidy sang from a similar hymn sheet.

“Maybe it was the kick I kind of needed to get myself back into where I should be.

“So getting back in with Limerick was always the plan, thankfully it worked out.”

That it has.

Three All-Ireland senior medals collected, his importance to the squad dynamic growing steadily in recent times and then yesterday saw him reach a higher summit.

Limerick’s sustained excellence continues to delight Quaid, the presence of a player who he has a link to, adds to it.

“I don’t think too many people have left their county, gone playing Christy Ring, come back and won three All-Ireland medals with their own county again.

“And moved so much up the rankings within a team.

“Timing is everything. It’s another All-Ireland winning player that I put through my hands, along with the other lads. To have some small part in it is huge.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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