WHEN TJ Reid's phone beeped on Thursday morning with a message from Tommy Walsh, he just assumed that contained therein was the customary 'best-of-luck-for-the-weekend' correspondence from a Kilkenny senior comrade.
"A big shock to the system," is how Reid describes the sensation of reading of Walsh's retirement in the Tullaroan man's own texted words.
"Just reading through the lines and you're seeing that he's making his decision to retire.
"A very sad day for ourselves and a very sad day for Kilkenny so it is but he made his mind up and hopefully he'll have a good life in his retirement."
"I marked him when he was half-back in his prime, one of the hardest guys to mark, high ball, low ball, he was just a tigerish man for the ball. Once it's in there around him, he wants that ball.
"He gave us great leadership, spirit in the dressing-room. If Tommy Walsh spoke you sat down and listened to him. That's how good he was. It's a sad day to see him go."
Another link the Kilkenny chain was broken yesterday with the announcement that goalkeeper David Herity was calling time on his time with Brian Cody's men.
At 31 years of age and having lost his spot to a younger man in Eoin Murphy this year, Herity's situation is similar and understandable for the same reason as Walsh's but partly stimulating Reid's surprise was his own inherent belief that, regardless of his relative alienation this year on match days, Walsh would easily cut it for at least another season.
"He was up in the forwards this year with us (this year)," Reid points out.
"I would have liked to see him maybe back in the backs. But I'm not Brian Cody in the management.
"He's 31 I think so it's a reasonably young age but obviously he spoke his family and friends first and he made his decision. That's the way it goes."
"Whenever he got the ball, he never failed to distribute it wisely. He'd always look up and pick you out.
"I think it was the 2011 All-Ireland final he picked out Henry numerous times and that's what you want from a half-back, picking out the forwards and giving the forward the best advantage he could.
"Tommy Walsh was the best at that, so he was."
For Reid, the season in which he established himself as arguably the most important forward for club and county rolls on.
Displaying virtually no ragged signs of a team with just a week to celebrate, repair and prepare after their county final win over Clara, Ballyhale Shamrocks disposed of Kilmacud Crokes with startling ease last Sunday in Parnell Park.
Were they to beat Kilcormac-Killoughey in Portlaoise in two Sundays' time, Ballyhale would move one clear of Birr atop the Leinster club hurling titles roll of honour with seven.
"Birr probably are one of the greatest teams in Leinster the last few years so it would be a nice thing to go ahead of them," Reid admitted.
"We'll take a break this week and then ease back into it for the weekend and then wind down the week after. So looking forward to this final.
"We said it to ourselves in there, we might never get this chance again with the players we have. So we want to give it 100 per cent.
"We'll work hard over the next two weeks and really concentrate on the Offaly champions because they are a good side," adds Reid. "Hopefully on the day we can do it."