TJ: 'Going down is not good enough' for All-Ireland champions Kilkenny
TJ REID says the prospect of Kilkenny plying their spring trade in Division 1B of next year's Hurling League is "slightly embarrassing".
The All-Ireland champions will be in this year's Division 1A relegation play-off on Sunday week, irrespective of their result against Clare in Nowlan Park in three days' time.
The likelihood is that they will face Davy Fitzgerald's team two weeks running unless Galway beat Dublin in Parnell Park and Clare win this Sunday, results that would conspire to send Dublin into the drop zone and a win-or-bust clash with Kilkenny.
"To go down to Division B would, I suppose, be slightly embarrassing for ourselves," admitted Reid, who starred for Ballyhale in their All-Ireland club win on St Patrick's Day and thus, hasn't featured for Kilkenny this year.
"Not for the supporters but for ourselves, going down is not good enough. So we'll be doing everything we can to beat Clare (or Dublin).
"It's not a position that we would like to be in but I haven't been in there so I don't know what's the score in there.
"We'll go back in, we'll drive it on and if we beat Clare (or Dublin) in the relegation, it could kick start the year."
There is, as Reid points out, some mitigation.
"There's 10 players missing," he notes. "If any other county was missing 10 players . . . that's not including the retired boys either, if you add them in that's 15 lads so that's a full team.
"If you took that off any other team, they're going to have, not a struggle but I just think the Kilkenny boys are battling, they're trying their best, so they are, they're working fierce hard."
Reid and the other five Ballyhale players currently on the Kilkenny panel will not play this Sunday, though there is a strong probability that they will return in time for the play-off.
"We'll be back in but we're in peak condition with the club so fitness wise it shouldn't be a problem.
"We'll enjoy Ballyhale and then we'll motor on and put the heads down.
"It will be nice to go in and, you know, we're in fifth gear now so it would be nice to step up to sixth gear with the county team."
Whether Henry Shefflin joins him in making that club-to-county transition remains uncertain but for Reid, the issue is clear cut.
"He could get a place on the Kilkenny senior team, that's my honest opinion," he insists.
"In my eyes, there's a place there for him and it's up to Henry. He's 36 but there's other players around the country playing at his age, playing professionally with the rugby team, the likes of Paul O'Connell and these boys, putting their bodies on the line.
"It's March now, nearly April, Championship is only around the corner.
"It's a short season from now on because it's only really now the hurling starts. It's up to Henry but I'd like to see him wearing the black and amber.
"Not just because I'm friendly with him or I play with Ballyhale," Reid concludes. "But he can make his own mind up."