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Saturday 19 April 2014

'Surprised' Davy Fitz laughs off Cork complaints over Nash blocking

Anthony Nash, Cork, shoots to score his side's second goal in the All-Ireland final
Anthony Nash, Cork, shoots to score his side's second goal in the All-Ireland final

Davy Fitzgerald has rejected suggestions from Cork coach Ger Cunningham that Clare had pre-planned their efforts to block Rebels goalkeeper Anthony Nash as he came forward to hit his close-range frees in the drawn final.

"I could give you two or three examples of things that happened the last day and in the Munster semi-final that mightn't have been great," said the Clare boss.

"I'm choosing not to and, to be honest with you, I'm a bit surprised that Cork brought it up.

"Let me put it to you this way – I'm not going to comment on stuff that happened to our players and was pretty obvious.

"I don't think anyone hit him a big dunt or anything like that. There might have been a bit of gamesmanship, but I wouldn't go into that at all. I know the likes of Ger Cunningham, he's probably laughing that off."

Fitzgerald insisted there was no way it could have been pre-planned because they never expected Nash to be taking the frees at close range.

"I didn't know he was going to be hitting them, to be honest. I wasn't aware of that. Has he taken anything before in the championship? (he scored a penalty against Wexford last year). We hadn't thought about that," he said.

"We haven't conceded an awful lot of penalties or '21s' and then they got a hatful of them the last day. We're not used to giving away that many in the game and it was a big issue the last day."

The Banner boss also raised safety concerns with goalkeepers being allowed to gain yardage with their lift from close-range frees as Nash did in the drawn match.

No rule exists to prevent a goalkeeper gaining such ground, but the Clare manager suggested it is something that the GAA chiefs would have to look at in the future.

"My only concern would be from a health and safety point of view that if Pa Kelly (Clare goalkeeper) meets it from the '14,' I don't know what's going to happen him if it hits him in the neck.

"If it hits him from the '21,' it's a different story," Fitzgerald told the assembled media.

"The fact that you can carry it on your hurley and hit it on the '14' is a concern from that point of view. What's there is there, though, and we won't kick up too much about it.

"It's going to be there the next day and we in Clare aren't going to make a massive issue.

"When you have to be 20 metres from the free, I presumed you had to take it from out around that area. But the biggest thing we have to do is not give away '21s' and penalties.

"I'm having a laugh about this as much as anything else because they're not going to change the rules. Safety is my only concern on this and I think it's something that should be looked at."

Fitzgerald also added that Clare have not yet been offered a chance of a run-out under the floodlights in Croke Park in the build-up to the replay, despite suggestions that they would be.

"Someone said to me that we were being offered a chance to go up there or that Cork were offered a chance to go up there, but I didn't hear a word," he revealed

"When the fixture was made, I remember thinking to myself, 'there's no point in even thinking about this thing' because we looked to go up there and train before the semi-final. We were told 'no,' so I said there was no point in even asking the question here."

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