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01st Feb 2024

“Aw Jesus, how is this going to work?” – Reid’s journey from Kilkenny’s third choice ‘keeper to mainstay at centre back

Niall McIntyre

It’s been quite a journey for Richie Reid, from third choice goalkeeper to first choice centre back on the Kilkenny team.

As is the way in many rural hurling clubs, Reid was the youngster with the good eye and the safe hands who, in the absence of Ballyhale’s first choice goalkeeper, was asked to mind the nets.

It came as something of a shock having been a forward throughout his underage career but he didn’t baulk at the opportunity, and won an All-Ireland club title in 2015, having played in the goals in the final against Kilmallock of Limerick.

It snow-balled from there.

Former Kilkenny custodian James McGarry was well aware of Reid’s goalkeeping abilities having trained him in Ballyhale, and Reid was brought into the Kilkenny panel as third choice keeper when McGarry became a Kilkenny selector under Brian Cody.

“All through underage, I was playing out the field for Ballyhale, and in the forwards,” Allianz ambassador Reid told us of his journey on Wednesday.

“Then when I got to senior level, our goalie James Connolly went off travelling to Australia.

“I was young at the time. They had forwards of Colin, TJ, Henry, Cha and Eoin, so I was happy enough just to get a starting position in goals,” he says.

“It was daunting at the start, but James McGarry was there, he gave me huge confidence, working along with me. I always had a good first touch and an eye for the ball.”

“I have very fond memories of that first club All-Ireland playing in the goal,” the 30-year-old said.

From there, Reid made his Kilkenny debut in the goals in the 2016 Allianz League against Galway but, around that time, he was beginning to play out-field for the club.

And Brian Cody would play him out the field in the odd internal match at Kilkenny training.

“I was third choice for the first few years, then David Herity left the panel and I was the second choice goalie then.

“I got a few games out the field with the club, was enjoying it.

“And then the first year Henry came in as Ballyhale manager, I said I wanted to concentrate on hurling out the field fully.

“Then training with Kilkenny, I was still sub-goalie but Brian would have put me out for some of the games.”

Then in 2017, he made his Kilkenny debut out the field, coming on for Richie Hogan in the Leinster championship.

“I remember then we were playing Wexford in a Leinster championship game, and I was the sub-goalie.

“Someone got injured and Brian said to me, you could also be coming on out the field.

“I said ‘aw Jesus, how is this going to work?’ So I was wearing 16 the sub goalie jersey and a 16 outfield jersey and I came on that day down in Wexford park. It kind of took off from there.”

It’s been a case of a slow but steady rise to prominence, and Reid had to remain content with a place on the bench for the majority of the next four seasons. But by 2021, he was starting midfield under Brian Cody, right up to the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork.

In 2022, he was their first choice centre back under Brian Cody, and was nominated for an All-Star that year. In 2023, this time under Derek Lyng, he was again a mainstay at centre back.

“The main driver for it was the club campaigns, getting onto winning Leinster and All-Ireland campaigns with the club out the field,” reflects Reid.

“It’s a new life for me. All through the years growing up, I was in the forwards or the goals, so it is a new lease of life.”

“When I went there with the club, I had Mick Fennelly beside me and I learned so much off him.

“Then with Kilkenny…I probably found it hard at the start to get the position and chance to play there, but when I did then, I just tried to take it on board, and learn as much about it as I could.”

“It’s a new lease of life for me.”

And you’d have the sense there’s a lot more to come.

Read next:

Diarmaid Byrnes, and Kilkenny hurler were Richie Reid at the launch of the 2024 Allianz Hurling League. The Allianz Hurling League provides an opportunity for all players to claim their spot in the county panel for the season ahead. The return of inter-county action, after a five-month break, also affords the teams competing a chance to showcase their strengths and lay down a marker to their county rivals.