Saturday 21 April 2018

Life lessons with TJ Reid: It annoys me when you see Premier League footballers diving - if you put a hand on their hair they're on the ground

Kilkenny sharp-shooter: GAA-GPA Hurler of the Year TJ Reid. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Kilkenny sharp-shooter: GAA-GPA Hurler of the Year TJ Reid. Photo: Kip Carroll.
TJ Reid celebrates scoring a goal in the 2015 Leinster championship final

John Brennan

TJ Reid (28) is the current GAA-GPA Hurler of the Year. He grew up on a farm in Ballyhale, Co Kilkenny, with his parents, Sean and Mary, and his three brothers Patrick (34), Eoin (31) and Richie (23). TJ studied Sport and Recreation at Waterford IT and now works as a sales representative. He has been juggling hurling commitments with Kilkenny since 2007 and has been a key member of a team that have won seven of the last nine All-Ireland championships. In 2015, his club Ballyhale Shamrocks won the All-Ireland club hurling championships. TJ has been in a relationship with Niamh De Brun for several months.

My mother died of cancer in 2008. Her name was Mary, she was a Hennebry from Mooncoin in Kilkenny, it's a tough ordeal to go through. I have won a lot of achievements lately - myself and my family have won a lot of achievements - but I suppose the biggest thing we'd love if she was here seeing us win all these awards.

I know that she'd be over the moon for us because hurling was her life. It would have given her great enjoyment, but I know she's up there praying down on us and giving us our strength and power.

The club All-Ireland we won last year, and my three brothers and myself played. Richie was in goal, I was half forward, Patrick was corner forward and Eoin was full forward - it was a special day for the family. We don't really dwell on it but that club All-Ireland was special because my mother died on St Patrick's Day 2008, so to be in Croke Park on Paddy's Day and the four of us playing, that was a special day that meant a lot to us. Hurling is in our DNA, every weekend we'd jump into the back of the car and my parents would bring us off to a game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was very much a ritual in the Reid family, the father was involved in the hurling growing up - he played for Ballyhale Shamrocks. He's trained all the under-age teams for the last 15 years, so we knew nothing different. We were given a hurl to get out of the house and go outside and go pucking. I suppose anyone's dream growing up in Kilkenny is to play for Kilkenny. I was on the minor team, the under-21 team, so I knew what to expect and knew the sacrifices you had to make. My brother Eoin was on the team for four years as well, so I saw how he had to conduct himself so it was a bit easier for myself. When you get that opportunity you know the commitment levels that are required and the standards that have to be met.

It was very exciting getting that call from Brian Cody. We were just after winning the club All-Ireland in 2007 so I'd good form. Brian and the management always look at the clubs, and if you're playing well and performing he'll ring you and bring you in for a trial. I remember that call, I was buzzing and jumping around but I remember grabbing my gear bag and heading down to Ballyhale hurling pitch and pucking balls over the bar, so my training started that night, if you like.

It annoys me at times when you see footballers [in the Premier League] diving around on the ground. You see how much money they're making and they can't score from five yards out or if you put a hand on their hair they're on the ground diving around like a jackass.

I was mad into Breaking Bad, I watched it all. It took up a lot of my time last year and I said never again! I was coming in and watching and staying up until near 2am - I said to myself I'm never starting a series again because I'd just get glued to it. You just keep watching in case something explodes or happens.

I'm still living at home on the family farm. I like to get up the fields and have a walk about, to see the cattle and what's going on as I'm away a few evenings. I have my own animals on the farm, it's what I enjoy doing. It's nice to get home, get out in the fresh air and take your mind off everything, like hurling and work as well. It's a nice peaceful atmosphere.

I have a couple of cows of my own. On our farm we're beef and dairy farmers. Recently, one of my heifers won supreme champion in Roscrea. She was crowned female champion of the show, so that was a proud moment. I have a few pedigree limousin cows and a few commercial cattle.

GAA and hurling require body conditioning and commitment. We trained last night, you wake up in the morning and you're tired and sore and you go to work, put in a full day's work and then come home and head to the gym for a recovery session and get ready for training tomorrow evening.

The lifestyle, it's hectic and you have to do everything right. Sometimes that's hard because you don't have time to relax for a day or you're not getting the right recovery because you have a full-time job - but the full-time job is putting bread on the table and you have to give that 100pc as well.

You have to treat yourself sometimes. You're concentrating so heavily on nutrition and eating healthy, but it's good for the body to have a cheat meal. After a game if I played well, I'd probably go for a bag of chips, a chicken burger and a battered sausage just to give myself a slap on the back. It's an amateur sport and you have to enjoy it. We train hard, so a bag of chips every few weeks won't kill me. The nutritionists mightn't like to hear it but that's just the way things are!

TJ Reid is an ambassador for Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps, which will see more than 100,000 children take part in camps across the summer with a focus on physical activity and nutrition. Nutrition is essential in powering active play.

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