At a time when inter-county players are increasingly turning towards teaching to sustain their sporting careers, perhaps Andy Moran and TJ Reid are the ones who’ve cracked it.

Mayo forward Moran packed in a job as a sales rep to open a gym in 2015, the same move Kilkenny hurler Reid made last year.

Both have enjoyed brilliant form since taking the plunge with Reid again grabbing headlines on Sunday.

His 0-15 haul in Sunday’s Allianz league final win over Tipperary brought his tally to 1-81 in the campaign and in each of the games he started he returned at least 0-12.

Eoin Larkin, a former Kilkenny colleague, believes it has got to the point where Reid is now at least as important a player to the Cats as Henry Shefflin was in his prime.

“He is probably at a higher level than Shefflin was at (in his prime),” said Larkin, at the launch of the inaugural AIB GAA Club Player Awards.

"They seem to have cemented TJ at centre-forward and built a team around him. I would just be worried that he is peaking too soon and I would hope that he doesn’t blow up half-way through the Leinster championship."

Larkin ranks TJ Reid alongside Shefflin

It was Shefflin, ironically, that pulled Reid aside during the 2012 Championship and talked him into sticking around after he was dropped for the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Limerick.

Reid listened and ended the season with another All-Ireland medal.

Larkin always saw the potential in Reid to develop into the player he is today.

“I did, he can make the ball talk,” said Larkin. “He has a great pair of hands and physically he is after maturing, he has all the attributes.

“As we have seen in the last few games, he is the leader of the team but I am sure Brian Cody will be looking for others to step up too when he doesn’t have a good day, and that day will come as well.

“The form TJ is in at the moment, there’s not many systems or players that are going to stop him. I think you just have to do your best on him and accept he’s going to score a few points and move on.”

Larkin ranks TJ Reid alongside Shefflin

Praise from Larkin should be appreciated because he has offered sharp commentary of the team and his former colleagues since retiring.

Early last year, after a heavy defeat to Clare, Larkin questioned the attitude of the younger players in a tweet, demanding that they ‘never give up’ and claiming there were ‘too many standing around’.

“I’m not sure it had a positive impact or not but that is the way I was feeling at the time,” said Larkin. 

“It probably was a bit harsh on my part but coming from what I was coming from, watching that was somewhat disheartening. They took it on board and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one saying it to them. I’m sure Brian and the lads were saying it to them behind closed doors too.”

The scale of the achievement this season, particularly after losing opening round games to Cork and Clare and in the absence of Paul Murphy, Colin Fennelly, and Richie Hogan, has surprised Larkin.

“I didn’t expect them to win the league final,” said the James Stephens club man. 

“I thought if they could come out of it with a respectable scoreline, then they could take it on the chin and move on and try to improve a bit for the Championship.”


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