Sunday 24 September 2017

'I hope when I retire I won't criticise players I've played with' - Anthony Nash hits back at former allies

'It's easy to criticise' insists new Rebel skipper as he launches staunch defence of both Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Cork's underage record

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash with Tipperary’s Brendan Maher at the launch of the Allianz National Hurling Leagues, which get under way this weekend
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash with Tipperary’s Brendan Maher at the launch of the Allianz National Hurling Leagues, which get under way this weekend
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

New Cork hurling captain Anthony Nash has expressed "disappointment" with former dressing-room colleagues who, he claims, criticised them in the wake of the county's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary last August.

A 10-point defeat stung the players on the back of their first Munster championship success in eight years.

But the dissection of Cork hurling in general in the aftermath of one defeat was something that surprised Nash who was speaking at the Allianz league launch as he reflected on the county's abrupt end to 2014.

The man he succeeded as goalkeeper in 2012, Donal Og Cusack, was critical of the county's poor underage record and the scale of the Pairc Ui Chaoimh re-development among other things, suggesting funds could be diverted elsewhere for a better purpose.

But while, Cusack wasn't specifically critical of the players or the management during the course of his analysis on 'The Sunday Game' on the night of the semi-final, Nash still felt some of the general commentary that greeted their defeat was unwarranted.

"A few lads that we would have played with came out with comments, I was disappointed with that because I would have togged out beside them in the dressing room and it's easy to criticise. I hope when I retire that I won't criticise players that have played," he said.

He also launched a strong defence of Jimmy Barry-Murphy's stewardship of the team over the last three years.

"Jimmy is fantastic and we wouldn't be where we are only for him. We've made three All-Ireland semi-finals and one All-Ireland final in the last three years so obviously the talent is there.

"Have we been successful at underage? No we haven't. Would be like to be more successful? Of course we would. But have we a strong enough panel to a) challenge for a league and b) challenge for an All-Ireland? Yes I do. So something has to be working down there," he argued.

"Would we like to be winning an All-Ireland minors? Of course, but if you look at the minors, they lost to Limerick by a point last year and Limerick played in an All-Ireland final.

"Our under 21 hurlers went to extra time against Tipperary a few years ago (2010) when Aidan Walsh and Lorcan McLoughlin from my own club were playing. If you'd have won one of those games, who is to say they wouldn't have gone on to win an All-Ireland?

"Even our own people in Kanturk, you got a few comments, Facebook and Twitter and things like that which isn't nice to hear. The true supporters would never do that, they know we're always going out to put in 100 per cent. It's something in the game, it's in every game," he reasoned.

"When we won Munster we were going to win an All-Ireland and when we lost to Tipperary, we were the worst team that Cork had ever seen.

"Next thing the County Board were being picked apart, the players were being picked apart, that we haven't won an underage game in how long all of a sudden. And that's after not winning one game.

"After we'd won Munster we were the best thing since sliced pan. It's a tough balance but we know we're a good team when we play well and work hard, as are any other county.

"It was tough for a few weeks after, there's no point saying otherwise, but hopefully we won't put ourselves in that position again.

"People are allowed to say what they want, people are entitled to opinions and if that's the worst thing said about us, we'll be okay," he qualified.

Nash is at a loss to explain the performance against Tipperary. "It was a very soul-destroying day and for a few weeks after you were wondering what went wrong but couldn't put your finger on it because so many things went wrong.

Read more: Limerick ready to unleash battery of young guns

"If one thing went wrong, you could work away and say, 'right this is it' but there was a lot of things we had to look at and hopefully we will never be in that situation again."

He admitted that it took some of the shine from the Munster triumph.

"If we had played well against Tipperary and lost by a point, you could have said, 'look, fair enough'. But we did very well to win Munster and we were delighted with that," the Kanturk clubman reflected.

"People then went away and asked 'did ye get carried away?' But nothing could be further from the truth. We were delighted to get the win obviously. We hadn't won it in so long, but everything is about All-Ireland final day."

Read more: Tyrone's young guns will come good - McMenamin

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