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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

'I'll never be Henry Shefflin, he's the king of hurling' - TJ Reid

The reigning Hurler of the Year also opened up on Ger Loughnane’s comments, Kilkenny’s remarkable run of success and this weekend’s league semi-final against Clare.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

TJ REID PUSHES Henry Shefflin aside when it comes to taking frees for Ballyhale Shamrocks these days but the reigning Player of the Year insists he can never replace the void his idol has left behind for Kilkenny.

Reid, 28, may already have seven All-Ireland medals and three Allstars to his name but he dismisses any notions of him ever matching Shefflin’s status in the game.

He’s just grateful to have learned so much from his club-mate who amassed an astounding 10 All-Ireland titles, 11 Allstars and three Hurler of the Year gongs before confirming his inter-county retirement just over a year ago.

“I’ll never be Henry Shefflin,” Reid said. “He’s the king of hurling. I’m looking to do my best out on the hurling field and looking to be the best out there.

“I watched Henry from a young age and he’s luckily from Ballyhale. I went training with him. He brought me training, he brought me home from training.

“I did learn a lot from him. His work ethic, on and off the field, is phenomenal. All the legends that have retired have those ingredients. You have to be honest, you have to be 100% committed.”


The Kilkenny juggernaut just keeps on rolling, having lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup a staggering 11 times since the turn of the millennium.

Under Brian Cody’s guidance, the Cats have continued to dominate on the grandest stage of all, including All-Ireland wins in 2014 and 2015, despite the ever-changing personnel.

Former Clare boss Ger Loughnane expressed his bemusement last week that Kilkenny were aiming for a third successive All-Ireland crown given his perception that the Cats are too reliant on Reid and Richie Hogan.

The comments caused a stir in hurling circles but Reid insisted that Kilkenny don’t pay heed to external sources who are stirring the pot ahead of another summer of hurling.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Reid explained.

“Ger Loughnane is trying to sell newspapers and trying to get people to read papers. That’s his job.

“The last two years we’ve won the All-Ireland fair and square. We beat Galway and we beat Tipperary so I don’t see why he was saying that.”

Ger Loughnane Ger Loughnane. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In recent times, Kilkenny have lost the likes of Shefflin, Tommy Walsh and JJ Delaney to retirement.

As a result, many felt that the Cats’ incredible run of success was bound to falter. But if last year was anything to go by, the opposite seems to be the case.

“I think he (Loughnane) said that it takes legends to win three in a row. So those legends are gone unfortunately; in Henry (Shefflin), Tommy (Walsh) and JJ (Delaney).

“They were probably the best generation we had. But that generation is gone so it’s up to myself and the rest of the boys now.”

What they may lack following the departure of such big-name players, they make up for with an insatiable appetite for success, Reid believes.

“We’re probably the hardest-working team out there,” Reid added.

“Every time we hit that field, our honesty and our work-rate is 100%. We mightn’t have those legendary names out there but that’s not our fault.

“We’re competing at our best and it’s up to the rest of the counties to try and match us on the hurling field. We’re probably the most honest group of hurling players out there.”


Next up for Kilkenny is a mouth-watering clash with Loughnane’s native Clare in a Division 1 league semi-final in Thurles on Sunday afternoon.

Paul Murphy (shoulder) is the only long-term injury concern for the Cats while Eoin Larkin will likely still be unavailable as he has just returned from a six-month peace-keeping mission with the Irish Army in Syria.

Reid has been in inspired form again this season, tallying 1-54 (1-15 from play) in five league games to date.

He was given a rare rest last weekend as Kilkenny made light work of Offaly in a 6-20 to 0-14 drubbing, and Reid is expecting Davy Fitzgerald’s side to offer a completely different challenge this weekend.

“I was either dropped or rested last week,” he quipped.

“We’ll all be fighting for positions for the Clare game.

“We went out and did the job against Offaly but Clare will be totally different. The intensity is going to be a lot higher, the work-rate is going to be a lot higher, so we’ll have to be at our best.

“They’re looking impressive. I saw them against Tipperary in the league quarter-final and they looked very fit and very strong and they’re moving the ball very well.”

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About the author:

Alan Waldron

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