I'll never be Henry Shefflin but I'm always looking to be the best - TJ Reid
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
A string of marquee performances have left the hurling world at his feet but TJ Reid is quick to quash comparisons being made with the iconic Henry Shefflin.
After struggling to nail down a starting berth in his early years with the Cats, consistent brilliance has now become Reid's calling card and he crowned a stellar 2015 - in which he claimed All-Ireland honours with club and county - by winning Hurler of the Year.
Having studied Shefflin at close quarters growing up in Ballyhale, Reid graduated to Brian Cody's senior set-up where the 10-times All-Ireland winner took him under his wing.
He couldn't have had a better teacher and with his 2016 form already sparkling, similarities are being draw between the two. Reid disagrees, however, insisting his club-mate is in a different league.
"I'll never be Henry Shefflin. He's the king of hurling," Reid said at yesterday's launch of Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps. "I'm doing the best for myself and I'm looking to do my best out on the hurling field and looking to be the best out there.
"I watched Henry from a young age and luckily he's from Ballyhale. He brought me to and from training and I learned a lot from him. His work ethic on and off the field is phenomenal."
Despite losing players who will go down in hurling's history as some of the best ever, the likes of Tommy Walsh and JJ Delaney and Shefflin, Reid (28) feels that the current Cats squad have left the perfect template to follow. And they have followed it to the letter.
"They did leave a lot behind for us to pick on," the three-time All Star said. "So it is a lot easier for us because we watched those lads do it for so many years. When things were down in the dressing-room, those boys stood up and made themselves counted.
"All the retired legends have those ingredients. You have to be honest, you have to be 100pc committed. The spirit has to be 100pc when you go into the dressing-room and hit the field.
"Every time you train you put your bodies on the line. That's what those players leave behind and we have learned so much from them. We're trying to bring as much of that forward to the next generation as we can."
Many would rest on their laurels after winning seven All-Ireland medals from nine seasons with Kilkenny but the mentality on Noreside doesn't allow for complacency and Reid doesn't plan on dropping his standards.
"That doesn't come into the dressing-room. Certainly Brian doesn't use that to motivate an All-Ireland. We more motivate ourselves because we love the competition," Reid said.
"We love the big games, we love getting on a bus and coming to Croke Park. That's what you dream of as a young lad and that's why you train your guts out. All-Irelands and bonuses and All-Stars, Hurlers of the Year - they're there for the mantelpiece. They're for writing down on your CV."
Ger Loughnane recently claimed that Kilkenny were totally dependant on Reid, comments which the player says are far wide of the mark as "one player doesn't win any game".
However, Loughnane's words will not be used as something to spur the team on. Stars of the past may be out of shot but the honesty which set the Cats apart is still front and centre for all to see.
"We're probably the hardest-working team out there and every time we hit that field our honesty and our work-rate is always 100pc. We mightn't have those legendary names out there but that's not our fault," he said.
"We're competing at our best and it's up to the rest of the counties to try and match us on the hurling field. We're probably the most honest group of hurling players out there."
Different year, same Kilkenny. It's up to the rest to catch up.