Thursday 22 February 2018

Jackie Tyrrell reveals the most skilful player he ever played with

Jackie Tyrrell is one of Kilkenny’s elder statesmen
Jackie Tyrrell is one of Kilkenny’s elder statesmen

Michael Verney

Despite brushing shoulders with extraordinary talents like Henry Shefflin, DJ Carey and Tommy Walsh during his Kilkenny career, Jackie Tyrrell rates his recently-retired team-mate Richie Power as the most skilful hurler he has ever played with.

Playing at corner-back Tyrrell was often tormented by the Carrickshock attacker but he always revelled in the challenge of knowing he was pitting his wits against one of the best forwards in the country.

Power's lackadaisical style often lulled opponents into a false sense of security and Tyrrell admits to being caught out regularly on more than one occasion by his incredible stick work, when he least expected it.

"I marked him a lot and like I used to love marking him because you knew you were going to get a fair auld test off him. He could be very lazy at times and then I think sometimes he'd suck you in," Tyrrell says.

"Then he'd get a ball and run by you and stick it in the back of the net and run out as if to say 'you're a f***ing bollox'. You'd think this is one of the days when he's not really bothered and then he could do something like that."

His performances with St Kieran's College and the Kilkenny minors marked him out as one of the game's most prodigious talents, and he didn't disappoint at senior level, as Tyrrell painfully recalls.

"I'd still stand over saying he is the most skllful player I've played with," Tyrrell said. "He was so, so skilful. Normally when you go out and mark a guy there'd be one facet that he'd be weaker on but Richie had it all.

"He was brilliant in the air, strong, fast, left, right, he could throw the ball off and he was just so skilful. We played them in a club match out in Callan and he scored 1-14 from full-forward.

"He absolutely cleaned us out and he had the ability to do that the whole time. It was sick what he could do and I know first-hand."

A crippling knee injury forced the 30-year-old to prematurely call time on a career which had more to offer but Tyrrell remembers fondly how Power often picked up knocks at "appropriate" times of the year.

"He always timed injuries so that he would get them in the off-season and they'd be gone in March/April when all the heavy training was done," Tyrrell quips.

"Unfortunately he had some serious injuries recently and that knee has been at him for a while, it's been tough for him and it was testament to him in 2014 that he got back for the last few games, but last year was a bridge too far for him."

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