KILKENNY captain and Ballyhale Shamrocks star TJ Reid revealed the All-Ireland finalists relied on outside advice ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland club semi-final win over Newtownshandrum.
The Kilkenny side counteracted Newtown’s famous running game to come out with a two-point win, and Reid paid tribute to Shamrocks’ management for bringing in other coaches to discuss Newtown’s style.
“They watched DVDs of Newtown — you’d have to with the one-twos and overlapping style of play they use,” said Reid. “We got people in to talk about them, people who’ve managed against them, and we tried some things in training, a few game plans, to suss it out. We were delighted it worked.”
And who were those other coaches?
“Ah, I can’t be giving out those names!”
Reid said Ballyhale were expecting a hard challenge from the Cork champions. And that is what they got.
“It was a tough game, we knew well it wouldn’t be easy playing against the likes of Ben and Jerry O’Connor and Cathal Naughton, they’re fine players. We’re back in an All-Ireland final and it’s where we wanted to be from when we started off last year.”
Having lost heavily to Portumna in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, is revenge a factor this year?
“Revenge might be involved, you’d have to say that after they beat us last year. They’re a serious team and when they beat us in the All-Ireland semi-final it was a hard defeat to get over. We’ll have to sit down and have a look at them now and work out how we’ll approach them.”
Everyone can name the Galway side’s star forward, but Reid is keen to point out the quality Portumna have all over the field.
“You could name out the whole team,” he says. “Joe (Canning) is a very highly-rated player and we’ll have to come up with some sort of a plan to stop him — and the other 14 as well.
“Joe will have to be watched, but then you have Damien Hayes, Andy Smith, Chunky Hayes — I could go on but I’d probably have to name the whole team. It’s going to be a tough one, though it’ll be a nice one for spectators. Hopefully we’ll be able to do ourselves justice on the day.”
Reid and his Ballyhale teammates won’t figure for the Cats as long as they’re involved in the club campaign, but they know their manager will be keeping an eye on their form regardless.
“Brian (Cody) loves the club scene, he loves his own club James Stephens and he loves going to club games all over Kilkenny. As for myself and the other Ballyhale lads — Mick (Fennelly), Cha (Fitzpatrick), Henry (Shefflin) — if we’re playing anyway well with the club he’ll be watching us and he’ll probably have the attitude that if we’re going well with the club then we deserve a chance with the county team.”
Is the standard at All-Ireland club level close enough to intercounty? “Certainly against Newtownshandrum and Portumna, they’re two very fast teams. It is a very good standard, particularly the speed, and there wouldn’t be much between Portumna and some county teams.”
Reid was speaking at the announcement of a new sponsorship deal between Glanbia plc and the Kilkenny hurlers which will run from 2010 to 2012. The sponsorship will include Kilkenny’s Senior, Intermediate, Under 21 and Minor hurling teams with the Kilkenny jersey carrying the Avonmore milk logo. The sponsorship continues to be performance bonus-related.
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