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After struggling in 2013, Kilkenny are back in 'sixth gear', says TJ Reid

“This year, the fitness and the speed and the touch is all back,” says the forward who broke his knee cap in 2012.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CATS BOSS BRIAN Cody may not thank him for it but TJ Reid insists Kilkenny are back to their very best and motoring along in ‘sixth gear’.

The Cats comfortably overtook Dublin at Croke Park last weekend, speeding to a double scores victory and a first Leinster hurling title since 2011.

They were, of course, All-Ireland champions the following year, 2012, and in-form Reid said it feels as if Kilkenny have regained that same winning spirit.

They endured a difficult 2013 Championship with an unexpected All-Ireland quarter-final exit.

But Reid’s brilliant form which has earned him the Opel GPA/GAA Player of the Month for June has mirrored the team’s stunning revival.

They’ve won every competition they’ve entered this year with Leinster, National League and Walsh Cup titles.

“There were a lot of lads injured last year and coming back into games half fit but you can’t win or be going 100 per cent when you’re half fit,” said Reid.

“This year, you see the difference. We have a full strength team. Everyone is 100 per cent. Last year, to be honest, we were probably in fourth gear. This year, we’re in sixth gear. You definitely see the difference there this year.”

Asked if they are back to the form of 2012 when they collected a ninth All-Ireland of the Cody era, prolific forward Reid nodded.

“Ah definitely,” he said. “I think we are in sixth gear. On Sunday, it wasn’t an entertaining game against Dublin but we did enough to win. We have four weeks now to work on a bit of speed work and get ourselves flying again. I totally believe we’re after mixing the experience with the new youth and that’s after changing things for us really.”

Fitness, speed and touch

Reid’s own form has been a big reason for Kilkenny’s impressive record of 12 wins from 15 this year. The Ballyhale Shamrocks man shot 2-11 in particular against Galway in the Leinster semi-final replay.

“I broke my knee cap in the 2012 All-Ireland final replay and didn’t run for six or seven months,” he said.

“This year, the fitness and the speed and the touch is all back.”

Reid is praying that club and county colleague Michael Fennelly overcomes a troublesome back injury in time for the All-Ireland semi-finals on August 10.

“We have himself and Richie Power gone but it all depends on how well they recover in the next four weeks,” he said. “They could be featuring in four weeks’ time.”

Do I want to start on Sunday? Yeah, me and 30,000 other Cork hurlers

‘The boys are as fit as fiddles’: Wexford can handle gruelling schedule, says Doyle

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Paul Keane

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