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TJ Reid: If John O'Dwyer's last second free went over, it would have been the worst winter of my life

The 26-year-old was delighted to win the All-Ireland after missing much of 2013 because of a “dirty stroke.”

TJ Reid celebrates with The Liam McCarthy Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

KILKENNY’S ALL-IRELAND victory this year was all the sweeter for TJ Reid, who was hampered with a knee injury in 2013.

A broken kneecap sustained in the 2012 All-Ireland final against Galway left him playing catch-up last year and ultimately he feels he was unable to get himself into good enough form to prevent Kilkenny’s early exit from the championship.

“Looking back on last year, we had a bad performance and a bad year. I had a bad year myself with a knee injury so I wanted to really push on this year for myself and the team.

“I broke the kneecap in 2012 All-Ireland final and I missed half the year in 2013. I wasn’t fully right last year. But this year, thank God, the knee was perfect and my performances reflected on that.

“I was trying and trying and sure I didn’t run for six months of the year so I missed the majority of the year. I was only back running, back jogging even in March/April so that’s half the year gone and I missed the whole league campaign.

“I was trying my even best to get back, do the gym work and what I was told but the power and the freedom that I have this year was totally missing last year.”

There was some anger in the county about the nature of Reid’s injury, which he describes as a “dirty belt”, but he feels this year a similar action would not have gone unpunished.

“It is frustrating of course when you do get a nasty belt like that. You can’t do anything about it, when you play hurling you are going to get injured. The players themselves have to take control of their actions, it was a wild pull of a hurl.”

Michael Fennelly and TJ Reid with Brendan Maher

“When you do pull a wild stroke you are going to injure a player. I think this year referees are clamping down on that in fairness to them. If you do pull a wild swing of a hurl now it’s a red card and a few years ago that wasn’t in place so it’s very important to have that rule in place.

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The standard of refereeing in hurling has become a hot topic in recent times and while Reid recognises that they have a tough job, he agrees with his manager Brian Cody that Barry Kelly awarded Tipperary a soft free in the final seconds of the drawn All-Ireland final.

“Referees have a tough job and I think they do it very well. They’re under a lot of pressure from everyone.

“There’s been an awful lot of talk about it (the free on Brian Hogan) over the last week. It would have been very harsh, I have to say. When you’re training for the last year for an All-Ireland final you don’t want a decision to go like that.

“If it did go over the bar, it would have been the worst winter of my life, just knowing that point going over in the last second. We hadn’t a second chance because the two minutes of injury time were up and we were gone. Thank God that a bit of justice went right and it went wide.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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