TJ Reid and Tommy Walsh in action during this year's clash between Kilkenny and Galway. James Crombie/INPHO
Paying Tribute

TJ's shock at Tommy's departure - 'A very sad day for ourselves and for Kilkenny'

This year’s Kilkenny Allstar winner has been speaking about his former teammate who retired last week.

TJ REID’S PHONE beeped last Thursday morning and when Tommy Walsh’s name popped up on the screen, he presumed it would be a good luck message about Ballyhale’s Leinster club tie on Sunday.

Instead Walsh delivered the bombshell  that he was severing his ties with the Kilkenny senior hurling squad, calling time on a decorated and lauded career.

“Big shock to the system, just reading through the lines and you’re seeing that he’s making his decision to retire,” revealed Reid. “A very sad day for ourselves and a very sad day for Kilkenny so it is. But he made his mind up and hopefully he’ll have a good life in his retirement.”

Reid made his senior championship debut in 2008 in the midst of Walsh’s golden Allstar winning run that saw him established as one of the leading hurlers in the country. Being pitched into training battles with Walsh was a serious testing ground for Reid in the early stages of his Cats career.

“I marked him when he was half-back in his prime,” outlines the 27 year-old. “One of the hardest guys to mark, high ball, low ball, he was just a tigerish man for the ball. Once it’s in there around him, he wants that ball.

857019383 TJ Reid celebrating the 2009 All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny with Tommy Walsh and Eoin Larkin. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“He gave us great leadership, spirit in the dressing-room. If Tommy Walsh spoke, you sat down and listened to him. That’s how good he was. He’s 31, I think it’s a reasonably young age. But obviously he spoke to his family and friends first and he made his decision.

“Whenever he got the ball, he never failed to distribute it wisely. I think it was the 2011 All-Ireland final he picked out Henry numerous times. That’s what you want from a half-back, picking out the forwards and giving the forward the best advantage he could. Tommy Walsh was the best at that.”

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The Walsh influence in the Kilkenny team will continue in the shape of Padraig, a shining light in September’s win over Tipperary.

“You saw Padraig this year, he has the resemblance of Tommy,” agrees Reid. “It’s not too often you see that happening. He’s a great man in the air, like Tommy. I think Tommy’s name will live on.”

Thoughts of the inter-county game in 2015 will be parked by Reid for now. The AIB Leinster club hurling final looms large on 7 December after Ballyhale took care of Kilmacud Crokes last Sunday.

“It was dangerous because we only had a week to prepare. Kilmacud had two or three weeks so it would be easier for them coming into the game and raring to go. For us we were coming into the game off the (Kilkenny final) celebrations.

Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid lift the Kilkenny senior trophy Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid lift the Kilkenny senior trophy. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I thought we dug it out, our work rate was impressive and a few of our scores were excellent as well. (We’re) looking forward to this final. We said it to ourselves in there, we might never get this chance again with the players we have. We’ll work hard over the next two weeks and really concentrate on the Offaly champions.”

Kilkenny’s All-Ireland winning goalkeeper David Herity announces his retirement

Shefflin and Reid get the goals as Ballyhale close in on another Leinster crown

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