Thursday 16 August 2018

Nash relishing new-look Munster championship

Anthony Nash
Anthony Nash

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cork hurling has been blessed with some of the best, most colourful and most recognisable goal keepers over the last 30 years with the likes of Ger Cunningham, Donal Óg Cusack and now Anthony Nash protecting the net from all comers.

Nash has always been a top quality keeper, but after helping his native Kanturk to win the All Ireland intermediate Club Hurling title earlier this year the Duhallow man seems to be in the process of taking his art to a new level, something that is not going unnoticed around the country.

Nash put in a heroic display against Tipperary two weekends ago now and last Saturday night, despite not having to make any real quality saves, the current custodian of the famous red and white striped kit sent well over 30 laser guided puck outs to defenders and attackers with an ease that belies the obvious pressure of each moment.

Nash may be a seasoned veteran at this stage but the net minder is still blown away by what a Cork crowd can bring to the table on nights like last Saturday.

"The fans were brilliant again tonight, to see a sea of red when you take to the pitch is massive and even when we travel to places like Thurles it's there. To hear the roars like you did towards the end there is definitely uplifting and we appreciate every bit of support we are given and like John [Meyler, the Cork manager] said earlier fortunately enough we are giving them something to cheer about at the moment.

"Delighted with the support and it's very similar to last year with the numbers that are following us. It's incredible to be standing in goal and watching what's going on in front of me. What the lads are doing is amazing."

While Nash is delighted with the way things are going at present in the re vamped Munster Championship he does feel that a time to take stock will come, but one element he feels would definitely liven things up.

"The only thing I would change is Saturday night games. If you've more Saturday night games fellas could wake up Sunday morning and have a day to themselves, with their families or whatever. You see 35,000 there tonight - I don't think any supporter would be disagreeing with more Saturday night games.

"Obviously, all of them can't be [Saturday night games] with the number of games, but that's the only thing I would tweak going forward especially with the weather the way it is."

Playing three games in thirteen days was always likely to be a challenge for players and management however Nash feels that he isn't really the right person to give a definitive positive or negative to the question of too many games.

"For a goalkeeper it's fine, it's just being mentally right for the game more than anything. I'm sat here now and I could probably go and play another (game). I think an outfielder could comment on that and say whether it's a good thing or not but, look, the numbers turning up to games are showing that it is a positive.

"People might be going away and saying after a draw there's a lot of negatives but we've a lot of positives we're going to take from it.

"I can't comment on fellas' fatigue but to go three games in thirteen days is an incredible feat from lads and to show the energy at the end of the game to not give up I thought was a massive boost."

All sides are currently in a learning phase when it comes to the new championship format, but players themselves seemed to be considering the extra call on their services from a long way out.

"When it was laid out last year, we had an idea of it, but we never thought we would have two draws. Everyone around knows how competitive the championship is. You saw the league there, most of the Munster teams performed fairly well.

"Last year's All-Ireland semi-finals, there were three Munster teams. I know Galway went onto win it and deservedly so but it's super-competitive. The people delighted leaving here (tonight) are the supporters. There's 35,000 people there and people watching on TV who will be thrilled with the spectacle the two teams put on and that's what I think should be taken from today.

"You can nit-pick this, that and the other but I thought the two teams were absolutely unbelievable and gave everything. I know there was a sending-off, but I don't think there was one bit of a dirty swipe in the game. I thought it was open, brilliant hurling."

Nash also felt that playing into a setting sun at the end was not as much of a problem as people may have thought and felt that if there was a disadvantage it probably went both ways.

"I know it wasn't there for the first-half, but I don't think it made a massive difference really. It was affecting their forwards as much as our defenders".