Joey Holden: an example of never giving up when things go against you
Joey Holden knows what it feels like to be a long way off.
He wasn't near a Kilkenny minor panel, so he says himself, and he didn't make the under-21s either.
"Some lads are slower than others and I was one of the slow ones," he says with a shrug of the shoulders.
He doesn't strike as the type of lad who would have been down in himself about it though. Take the good with the bad, that's all you can do. Accept what you are and what you have, work as hard as you can, you can't do any more.
"I would have been called in for a trial but I would have been dropped fairly quick. Listen, I wasn’t at that level, there’s no point in lying and saying I was. I didn’t think I was at that level when I was brought into the Kilkenny panel either," he says to us at the AIB Club finals day.
But Holden kept on learning as he went along. He shipped a few roastings from Henry and TJ in club training along the way but from every setback, he took something away.
"You don’t really know if you’re good enough until you’re in there and training. I was in training and I still didn’t think I was up to it, but then lads were getting dropped and you’re still there..."
There will always be beatings, there's going to be days that make you feel like you don't deserve to be there, but you can't let one day define you. You have to bounce back.
"Next thing you’re wearing number five, then you’re like, right well I will try hold onto this until the next day. Then the next day you could be getting 17 - but you’ve learned so much up to there, don’t just throw it away. Keep doing what you’re doing and you might get another chance then."
Holden earned his chance. After standing out in Ballyhale Shamrocks' club games, Brian Cody called him into the Kilkenny senior panel for 2014.
"I’d probably put it down to marking Henry and TJ in club training and learning so much off marking those lads. Things started clicking with you then, things start going right and you get confidence.
"You’re marking these lads like Taggy Fogarty, you learn so much from them - who could roast you at training, but whenever you get a roasting, you learn more than you would have had going in and whenever they get the ball you’ve to learn to try and stop them. There will be good days and bad days but you just have to learn things on the way and try to improve.
"So I wasn’t very good at U18, minor, some people say I’m not that great now! But listen, that’s the way it goes, you just go out and try your best. Some days, things haven’t gone right for me, other days, they have. Listen, it’s only a game of hurling. When I started at U11, they threw in a little white ball and they’ll throw in a little white ball on Paddy’s Day, it’s still a game of hurling!"
There's no point in over-complicating it.
"Things just started clicking, you probably train so hard that these things just become automatic. I suppose it’s when you’re not thinking sometimes, that’s when you’re at your best. You just go out and hurl and do your best.
"I was surprised, I would have played well with the club but you don’t know what they’re thinking or what they’re looking at.
"So you just go in and train, as I said earlier, it’s still a white ball thrown in in the middle of the pitch just like when you were young - even in training, they don’t throw in two balls, they throw in one so you just try get to that ball before your man, do what you’ve always done on the hurling field that’s got you there and hopefully it works out for you. If it does, it does, if it doesn’t, at least you tried your best."
It's a simple game.
In recent years, he has nailed a spot down on the Kilkenny team out at wing back while he's based at the edge of the square for Ballyhale.
"It’s not for me to decide. If you can get a number from 1 to 15, take it, enjoy it, hold onto it, cherish it and do the best that you can. It doesn’t really matter what number, if it’s below 15, you’re doing well, if it’s not, you drive on the lads that are on the 15 and try and make the panel, and that’s both with Kilkenny and Ballyhale. It’s all part of the team winning, it doesn’t matter who plays well as long as the team is winning, that’s what makes everyone happy and that’s what makes me happy as well."
A win on St Patrick's Day will make him even happier.
Ballyhale Shamrock's Joey Holden, left, and St Thomas' Conor Cooney ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship Final taking place at Croke Park on Sunday, March 17th. Having extended their sponsorship of both Club and County for another five years in 2018, AIB is pleased to continue its sponsorship of the GAA Club Championships for a 29th consecutive year. For exclusive content and behind the scenes action throughout the AIB GAA & Camogie Club Championships follow AIB GAA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.