TJ's all-round brilliance sees him join the all-time greats club
TJ Reid was marking one of the best hurlers in Ireland on Sunday.
And Padraig Mannion didn't even have a bad game. 2-11, 2-5 of it from open play. The Ballyhale Shamrocks ace turned in one of the most effective individual performances any hurling follower is likely to see in their lifetime on Sunday afternoon and the words on each of their lips afterwards were 'that man did not deserve lose that game.'
There's no doubt about it.
Stand up and BANG
TJ was never missing that onepic.twitter.com/HfqRqgcSwV
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 9, 2019
27 minutes were on the clock in Nowlan Park and every onlooker was enchanted. Galway had finally arrived to the championship. Cathal Mannion was having a party out there and Jason Flynn was causing wreck. They combined for a well-worked score to put Galway 1-9 to 1-8 up.
There was just something so inevitable about TJ Reid striking back though. Darren Brennan played his part and lamped the puck-out right down on top of the dangerman and a few big Galway hounds.
Cooney, Mannion and McInerney circled. The ball broke to the ground but the one in black and amber was first to crouch. He's so explosive, darty and alive to the breaks.
Once down he surrounded the ball to the extent that it couldn't possibly find a home anywhere else other than his right paw.
'The right man has it'
'Oh the wrong man has it'
His running style is unique. Short, choppy little strides, his chest and upper body are tensed and almost crying out for a shoulder. He puts the head down like a worn out cross country runner, not because he's tired though but because he's ready to run through the pain barrier. In any instance, that's a few belts.
The big burly Rahoon Newcastle defender John Hanbury hits TJ his level best. He's gassed out after it. Reid's only getting going.
He somehow angles his body so that the push makes him go even faster towards the goals. Keeps his balance and shoves it over so he's impossible to hook.
No fuss. The Kilkenny crowd didn't even cheer that loudly because these are the things they've come to expect from their talisman now.
This is what we've all come to expect from TJ Reid, one of the most consistently brilliant hurlers the game has seen over the last ten years. A man who must now be compared favourable to the likes of DJ Carey and his club-mate Henry Shefflin.
In this championship alone, he's racked up 5-35 in three games. That's a full 12 points ahead of nearest challenger Patrick Horgan. But while the scoring stats are frightening - TJ is sixth in the all-time list of championship scorers, it's important to remember that TJ's game isn't all about scoring.
When you try to remember a bad game this man has had for Kilkenny in the recent past you begin to realise. An extremely unselfish player, TJ will always pass when it's on. Often, his influence sees him double-marked and so he has to get rid of the ball quickly. His passes are always inviting.
And on Sunday he was at his very, very best.
So many times in the game that same thing happened. A back's ball lands on TJ's wing but he turns water into wine. Manipulates the leather to leave defenders' dumbstruck and lagging.
We took stats on TJ's aerial game and by the end of it he'd won nine contested high balls. The fact that Paddy Deegan and Paul Murphy (one each) were the only other Kilkenny players to win a high ball sums the man's wizardry and mastery of this game up.
His second goal was a masterclass in his skills, awareness and abilities but his ability to come up with the scores when his county were in dire need sums it up.
The anticipation for the breaking ball 💣
The awareness to know Hanbury was coming for the hook ✔️
The dummy 🤤
The finish: Never in doubt.
TJ Reid 🙌pic.twitter.com/6snmjChiqR
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 10, 2019
Or you could go back to a few minutes earlier when he caught the ball over Gearoid McInerney and Johnny Coen. With both men following him out from the goals, he just ducked in under them and tore off into the space he'd created.
TJ is one of the greatest ever to pick up a hurl.
Have your say here as to who you think is the greatest.