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Richie Reid feeling ‘no pressure’ in captain’s role as Cats prepare to take next step

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Kilkenny's Richie Reid poses with the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Loughmore Castle at the launch of the All-Ireland SHC Series last month. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kilkenny's Richie Reid poses with the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Loughmore Castle at the launch of the All-Ireland SHC Series last month. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kilkenny's Richie Reid poses with the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Loughmore Castle at the launch of the All-Ireland SHC Series last month. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

TJ Reid, one of the greatest hurlers of this or any era, has never lifted Liam MacCarthy as Kilkenny captain. Safe to say, at 34, the opportunity to do so might not come around again.

His younger brother Richie, meanwhile, has been a relatively unsung Cat, dating back to when he was first drafted into Brian Cody’s senior set-up as third-choice goalkeeper, in 2014.

But now the less decorated Reid is just two wins away from eclipsing TJ, who has suffered a double-whammy of All-Ireland final defeats as captain – both times to Tipperary, in 2010 and 2019 – during his illustrious career.

Richie was first offered the armband three years ago. “I gave him the captaincy one of the years, because I was nominated but I wasn’t starting on the Kilkenny team. I wasn’t giving it to him a third time!” he laughs.

The question of who picks the dressing-room leader generates more debate when it comes to Noreside, one of the few remaining outliers (Kerry football being another) who allow their county champions to nominate a captain.

By now, it’s second nature to the stakeholders at Ballyhale Shamrocks, who have amassed 19 Kilkenny SHC titles since 1978, ten alone in the Cody era. Ballyhale men have duly led the county to seven All-Irelands: Ger Fennelly, Liam Fennelly twice, Henry Shefflin, Cha Fitzpatrick, Michael Fennelly and Joey Holden.

Reid was an unused sub goalkeeper, wearing No 16, for the last of those victories in 2015. It was Cody’s 11th All-Ireland as manager; seven years on, he’s still chasing number 12.

But having moved from the bench to a regular outfield berth, Reid has now embraced the extra responsibility that goes with captaincy. Four weeks on from their Leinster final defeat of Galway, the centre-back is gearing up for a fascinating semi-final date with Clare in Croke Park tomorrow.

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“I was lucky enough this year that the club nominated me to become captain. I was absolutely delighted,” he confirms. “You have that bit of pressure alright, but Brian asked me at the start of the year, ‘Do you feel any pressure in it?’ and I said, ‘No’.

“It’s the exact same job as any other player on the team; you have to go out and perform.”  

Reid is equally adamant that there’s “not any pressure” on this Kilkenny team either because of that seven-year All-Ireland itch, or the last two years of semi-final trauma against Waterford (2020) and Cork (2021).

“There is a new group of Kilkenny players there, and we want to push on and win. We’ve won the last three Leinster titles and lost the last two All-Ireland semi-finals and have fallen short. For this group, we just want to push on one step further.” 

And beyond that? His career in the Irish Army has already taken him on tour of duty to South Lebanon, two-and-a-half years ago, and he may well head back there “maybe in the next year”.

Army life has been good: he enjoys the discipline and the fitness regime. “I went to college for a year,” he explains, “and it wasn’t really my thing, so I went back to the home farm and waited to get accepted for the Army. After a year, I thankfully got accepted.”

Everything comes to he who waits … sounds like a metaphor for his career in Black-and-Amber.


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