"He'll be missed on the sideline, and that Avonmore peaked cap will be treasured forever." 1 week ago

"He'll be missed on the sideline, and that Avonmore peaked cap will be treasured forever."

There was a six week gap between Ballyhale's Leinster club final win and their All-Ireland semi-final against St Thomas and during that gap, TJ Reid was told not to train.

So he didn't.

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He did some light jogging and striking on the week of the game and then that Saturday, under the lights in Semple Stadium, he scored 2-5, including that unforgettable free with the last puck of the game.

TJ had torn his groin in the county final and then, with mind ruling matter, he played the whole Leinster campaign on one leg. He says that wasn't the smartest move and for his troubles, and to complicate things even further, he picked up osteitis pubis as a result.

Yet watching on you wouldn't have known a thing.

TJ was still Ballyhale's main man right up until the All-Ireland final, where he scored 0-8, and despite being heavily hampered, he was still as good as ever.

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Inevitably, the injury troubles carried over into the county season and for once, you could see it taking its toll. TJ played well against Westmeath and Laois but he was off-the-pace in the Cats' Round-Robin loss to Galway in Salthill, where he was whipped off at half-time.

From then until the end of the season, it was business as usual. He was, at 34, and despite all those injury troubles, at the very top of the game. And that's why he's one of the greatest ever.

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"Look, I managed it quite well," TJ tells us.

"I've a lot of experience myself, obviously, with the health and fitness club and being a fitness professional - I peaked at the right times."

How did he manage it?

"Obviously, I have the gym, so I replicated what I was doing on the field as much as I could in the gym. I couldn't run so there were bike sessions, assault bike sessions, plenty of rehab, and that kept the cardiovascular system going.

"And knowing that I had done everything I could do to get on the field helped as well. There were plenty of painkillers and anti inflammatories taken too and they helped. Once I went out onto the field then, I knew I could perform because I had all that conditioning work done.

"I had great advice as well, from the specialists I saw, the physios, Mickey Comerford, the Kilkenny S and C coach. It is a lot easier when you have these people around you making sure that you are doing the right thing. They designed a plan that allowed me to perform on the day. And look, it went well, I performed well even though I was half-injured. After the club final, it was 12 weeks of rehab and the lads did a great job getting me ready, really and at peak fitness for Kilkenny then"

"For me, the appetite was a big thing as well. I hadn't hurled in so long before some of those games so I was hungry to hurl."

And even after losing last month's final to Limerick, and having lost his mentor in Brian Cody, Kilkenny people will be delighted to know that he's still got that hunger.

"I told the boys that I'll go for as long as I can. Once the body is able to take you there, and you're injury free - touch wood... I'm as fit and strong now as I was back at 24. I'm 34 now heading into 35. I have great confidence in my fitness. That's a huge help."

As for Cody's departure, TJ says he was emotional to see the great man leave.

"He sent a personal message to all the players on WhatsApp before the announcement was made. The Whatsapp group can be a daunting place every year because you get lads messaging in to retire so we went through a good few retirements in the last couple of years.

"Look, it's emotional stuff. These guys give everything to the jersey and you become great friends with these people. And Brian is the leader of us all and you'd have to look at it twice to believe it and make sure that it was from Brian. It was a sad day for us all and we all acknowledged his work for Kilkenny and the county board. It was a very emotional day."

"He's left Kilkenny hurling in a great place. The mentality that's there, the attitude around the dressing room, he's built standards that have to be kept.

"He'll be missed on the sideline, and that Avonmore peak cap will be treasured forever."

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Finalists; Kilkenny’s T.J. Reid and Limerick’s Aaron Gillane, pictured in Croke Park to celebrate that Littlewoods Ireland has rebranded to Very. Littlewoods Ireland is now Very, as part of this rebrand customers can now shop over 1800 brands on Very.ie. To find out more about Very, visit Very.ie and follow the conversation on social with #HelloVery, on Instagram (@very.ireland) and Twitter (@very_ireland).