TJ Reid relishing return to action
By Cian O'Connell
For TJ Reid the joy is plain and simple: being back hurling with Ballyhale Shamrocks.
Following a deeply uncertain spell on and off the field of play with severe business implications, Reid is relishing a return to action.
Last weekend’s challenge encounter against Tipperary outfit Kiladangan provided another reminder of being involved in a game.
“Over the moon to be honest,” Reid says about the fact that hurling is back on the agenda again.
“Obviously we still have protocols to adhere to. We all have to be responsible and do as much as we can to help each other. It's just fantastic, because I always say to the kids when you go training for that hour and a half, you forget about everything outside the hurling field.
“For me, you forget about Covid-19. You forget about what's been affected around you. You go down, enjoy the session.
“You go down, meeting your neighbours, meeting your friends that you've trained with for the last 10, 15 years, having that bit of craic before the after the training session as well.
“It's not just going hurling. Going hurling and going training is great, but that's the time where you can connect with players and meet your friends.
“Obviously the weather outside is unreal at the moment. We had a game on Saturday against Kiladangan from Tipperary, 22 degrees outside in July. What other place would you rather be?”It's just good to be back. Seeing pictures over the last couple of weeks and seeing supporters up on walls and trees, it's good to be back.”
Henry Shefflin recently stepped down as Shamrocks’ manager after two flawless campaigns culminating in a couple of AIB All Ireland Club titles.
James O’Connor has been forced to deal with the Covid situation. How has the change in coaching set-up been?
“We're out in two weeks' time against Tullaroan so we'll know after that,” Reid states. “James O'Connor, he's very good. I've only been back training with him to be honest for the last three weeks.
“We’ve played two challenge games so yeah we’re in a good position. His backroom team are good as well. You can’t replace Henry, but James is his own man, has his own achievements, ideas and plans.
“The manager is there to steer the ship, but it’s the players who bring the intensity and work-rate so we’re looking forward to that first game against Tullaroan - their first game back up senior so they’ll be chomping at the bit to try and beat us.
“That’s in two weeks, in Nowlan Park so everyone involved with Ballyhale is looking forward.”
Throughout the world people are dealing with significant alterations to their daily lives. As a business owner Reid acknowledges demanding challenges must be embraced.
“It is difficult and obviously when you have a business or when you employ people you look at things a little bit differently,” Reid admits.
“We have to stay open and if the Government decide to close things again an awful lot of places will be a ghost town because small rural areas have only redeveloped since the motorway took things away.
“They are only getting back to normality. There were small community shops. Ballyhale put in a community tea room. That was buzzing, there was a bit of life in the village, it was starting to come around, a chemist opened as well.
“If things do cripple...unfortunately people are going to be affected by it, doesn’t matter what we do, people are going to pick up this virus, but it’s to have a solution for it and to adapt to it and to be able to work around it.
“For the economy, if things do close again it will drive people the wrong way and especially for us. For me, people having that confidence of going back into the environment, not having that anxiety over your head, thinking about the Covid.”
Reid is adamant that everyone in the country can play an important part in ensuring the Covid 19 cases remain low.
“I think common sense, and be responsible for your own actions and do as much as you can to try to prevent the curve from going up because if it does go up the Government will slow things back down again because they are trying to protect their own front line people,” Reid adds.
“Then obviously it [trickles] down to small businesses, and pubs and restaurants and nightclubs. I’m in the gym industry and if things go backwards, well unfortunately we’ll have to make the decision to reclose again and that’s not an easy decision to make because I spent three years building this business and it takes hours and time and commitment and work and passion.
"When we closed the doors back in March I didn’t know will I have a business when it reopened because members were gone.
“What confidence have we coming back into a gym facility? I’m after losing probably 20-30% of my membership due to Covid and that’s a financial loss and it’s not an easy one to take because I’ve 13,000 square foot gym facility and big rent and big rates to pay.
“We are doing our best and all businesses around there have spent money getting the doors reopened and doing as much as we can to give people the confidence to come back in, and to get back out into the open air, and to get back to a normal life. All we can do at this moment is to do or best.”
Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny hurler TJ Reid was speaking at the launch of AIB’s new video series that will tell the story of the GAA’s toughest summer. The video series will consist of five webisodes as well as a feature-length documentary that will be broadcast in August.