TJ Reid rejects notion winter All-Ireland will suit Kilkenny's style

TJ Reid rejects notion winter All-Ireland will suit Kilkenny's style
Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny hurler TJ Reid at the launch of AIB's The Toughest Summer, a documentary which will tell the story of Summer 2020 which saw an unprecedented halt to Gaelic Games.  Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

All-Star Kilkenny forward TJ Reid has rejected the idea that their ultra intensity and famed aggression will give them a vital edge in this year's winter Championship.

The Cats overwhelmed Cork and then outmuscled Limerick last summer with both Munster counties unable to match the fire and ferocity of Brian Cody's men.

So while MacCarthy Cup holders Tipperary and 2018 winners Limerick are joint-favourites for this year's All-Ireland, which will climax with a mid-December final, many feel the conditions could actually suit Kilkenny.

Reid isn't convinced and reckons the reality is that whatever county gains momentum over that short period of time will prevail.

"No, not at all," said Reid, when asked if winter hurling will suit Kilkenny in particular. "It could suit any team to be honest. We played the club All-Ireland final with Ballyhale in January and we got a perfect day in Croke Park. It was a bit dry, a bit cold but it was a dry ball with no mucky conditions.

"It all depends on the field as well. With Croke Park, it's dry 12 months of the year and it does block off the wind and the rain with the stands.

"But, no, I don't think the time of year will suit teams, to be honest. You could get a day that is perfectly dry, the next day you could go out and it could be muck and snow.

"When you get back in with the county in September, yeah, some of the small possession type games around the midfield will probably be limited alright because at that time of the year, you're probably going to go as direct as you can because of the weather.

"I think your game plan will be slightly changed because the ball will be slightly greasier and slightly heavier, so hitting that 10-yard pass could be gone, you'd be looking to get the ball to the square as much as you can and trying to win your own 50-50 battles around that zone.

"Again, we don't know, we could get the perfect winter, other winters have gone by and we've had near-perfect conditions.

"Before we broke up in March we were in a good position, we were competing very well, a few newcomers were shining, and we were in a good physical state as well with players being fit and obviously we have a new physical trainer brought in as well, so boys were in a very good position.

"That's all changed now, but for me, it's whatever team can build momentum and confidence through November and December could be winners and it mightn't be Kilkenny, or Tipp or Galway, it might be some team that you haven't been looking at all year because it's such a short spell that if a team builds that momentum, they could get a lucky break."

A delayed Championship definitely suits reigning Young Hurler of the Year Adrian Mullen who suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in February.

The Kilkenny forward thought his season was over at that stage but Reid now gives his Ballyhale Shamrocks colleague a 50-50 chance of taking part.

"Adrian is doing very well, no setbacks at all," said Reid. "He's training away in the gym. That's all he can do. He hasn't gone back running or jumping yet - he's only doing his prehab work in the gym.

"It's unfortunate the way it happened to him. He got the operation in March so he should be looking at October, November, December, if things go according to plan and there are no setbacks and the knee is in a good place.

"The next six weeks is crucial to see where he is. He's meant to be going back running in the next two or three weeks - after that who knows. The All-Ireland series is November and December so it's 50-50 whether he'll make November or December."

Reid and Mullen were All-Ireland winning club colleagues with Ballyhale in January, securing back to back titles. Boss Henry Shefflin stepped down then after two seasons and all eyes are on his next move with a step up to inter-county management looking likely.

"He has the whole package for it," said Reid. "I don't know, Henry has to decide that himself. He has everything a manager needs. If he does go on to manage a team, you just wish Henry the best of luck. Anything that Henry gets involved in, he'll do it 110%. I've no fear of that."

  • AIB's The Toughest Summer will air weekly, every Thursday at 1pm, on YouTube at www.youtube.com/aib for five weeks from July 23rd through August 20th with Episode One following legendary Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny hurler TJ Reid as he shares his own experience of these past testing months. The final feature-length documentary will air on RTÉ 1 in late August.

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