Derek McGrath full of praise for 'wonderful' Anthony Nash
HE may live to regret it in Thurles on Sunday, but Waterford hurling manager Derek McGrath has admitted that he thinks the free-taking prowess of Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash "is a wonderful skill".
Nash's rocket-like penalties and short frees, and particularly his trick of throwing the ball forward so that he connects with it even closer to goal was one of the big talking points of last year's All-Ireland championship.
The GAA even contemplated changing the rules subsequently to stop him stealing some yards, which they later abandoned.
But the Decies boss, whose side face Cork in Sunday's Munster SHC quarter-final, has no problem with Nash's technique and says the goal he scored with it in last year's All-Ireland final replay was "one of the best pieces of skill I ever saw.
"I could pretend it should be banned, but I was at a challenge match in Danesfort in 1989 between Tipperary and Kilkenny and I saw Declan Ryan doing it three times in a game," McGrath said.
"It's nothing new. In the 1989 Munster final, Nicky English balanced the ball on his hurley for four or five seconds before he put it over the bar. That's when the balancing-the-ball trick started and Eoin Kelly of Tipperary still does that on frees.
"DJ (Carey) had a slightly different style, he balanced it for a couple of seconds and then threw it forward like Eoin Kelly of Waterford did.
"But the skill with Nash and TJ (Reid of Kilkenny) is that they 'pick' it straight away and to get their footing as grounded as it is, that's just brilliant.
"Anthony Nash's goal in the All-Ireland final replay that was slightly to the side of the '21' was one of the best pieces of skill that I ever saw in Croke Park," he added.
"To have the mentality to come forward and be cajoled and intimidated along the way and still remain focused!
"I was at the league game between Dublin and Kilkenny this year in Parnell Park and TJ Reid did it to a tee as well. I've also seen him doing it for Ballyhale against De La Salle.
"I might be lamenting it on Sunday, but I have to say it's a brilliant skill," the Waterford boss conceded.
Sunday's game is, unusually, the first provincial championship clash between the sides since their thrilling Saturday night Munster final replay in 2010, when current Decies selector Dan Shanahan scored the winning goal in extra-time.