TJ Reid: I was thinking about retiring
Published 08/10/2015 | 02:30
He's the hurler of the year-elect but TJ Reid almost walked away from it all in frustration.
It's 2012 and Kilkenny have just been filleted by Galway in the Leinster final. It's a long time since Kilkenny were dismissed in such a way and with Limerick on the horizon in a do-or-die All-Ireland quarter-final, Brian Cody makes changes. Ballyhale man Reid (right) is among those left out.
It put him on the brink until conversations with Henry Shefflin and Cody brought him back from the edge. Looking back now, he knows he made the right choice. By the end of 2012, Reid had won the All-Ireland and secured an All-Star award.
"I was frustrated I suppose, I was being taken off and getting dropped here and there," Reid recalls. "As a player, as a young hurler, you just want to be hurling. I was getting annoyed about it. I suppose for that game against Limerick I was dropped and I was annoyed over it. I was thinking about retiring.
"I would be very good friends with Henry (Shefflin). He sat me down and spoke to me. So it was my choice then.
"I suppose what turned it was that I loved it so much and it would have been hard to walk away from it.
"I think it was a stepping stone for myself. I spoke to Brian about it as well.
"Maybe I opened up to Brian about how I felt about it. After that incident I went on, we won the All-Ireland and I got an All-Star.
"Yeah, I suppose some players are maybe afraid to open up to Brian about how you feel about the set-up. I opened up and I think after that I'm after becoming a different player."
It's hard to imagine Kilkenny without him now. As Shefflin's career wound down, Reid was given more responsibility.
He took over the frees and this year was their single most important player and yesterday he collected the GAA/GPA Opel Player of the Month award for September.
Part of that was also down to a renewed focus on his conditioning.
Reid is bigger physically this year with team-mate Paul Murphy joking that he was eating the calf nuts he sells as part of his day job.
And his good form has continued into the club campaign as Ballyhale moved into the last four of the Kilkenny championship.
"When you are a young player at 18 or 19, I never lifted a weight before in my life, I didn't know what weights were," Reid revealed.
"It's only in the last five years that the conditioning levels are after picking up in GAA.
"That was one area that I improved and I think it is after helping.
"Over the last few years I think (his form) has been very good.
"Myself, I'm after concentrating on nutrition and conditioning. At the start of the year I had three goals - if I can get my nutrition 100pc, my conditioning 100pc and my fitness 100pc, then everything else should look after itself.
"When you are going out to the field knowing you have everything done right you should have no worries about on the field then.
"But if you are questioning yourself, 'Jaysus I should have done more in the gym' or 'I should have looked after myself better', then you are having question marks on yourself."