Tuesday 18 December 2018

Sliotar-gate issue is closed, says Nash

Anthony Nash, at yesterday’s Littlewoods Ireland’s #StyleOfPlay campaign launch, believes the new format will make the Championship format more competitive than ever. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Nash, at yesterday’s Littlewoods Ireland’s #StyleOfPlay campaign launch, believes the new format will make the Championship format more competitive than ever. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It was one of the stranger stories of last year's championship.

Anthony Nash and the case of the missing sliotars - or sliotar-gate as it soon became known - ran and ran last summer when his bag of balls went missing during their Munster SHC clash with Clare after a member of the Banner backroom team made off with them.

Anthony Nash in action for Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Nash in action for Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

But as the teams prepare to face off again on Sunday, Nash insists there are no hard feelings.

"The guy that did it he rang me after apologising and stuff. But it was fine, it was nothing really," Nash said at the launch of Littlewoods Ireland's 'Style My Wall' competition which has a grand prize valued at €10,000.

"I suppose whatever they wanted to do to win, you kind of have to respect that in a way as well. Fortunately enough, Pat Keane, the guy that looks after all our stuff, he had other sliotars ready to go and it was the same routine, give the bag of sliotars to the umpires and they deal with it then.

"It was the same, they were the exact same sliotars, I hadn't wet them or cut them or changed leather or anything like that with them!" he laughed. "That was a thing that was spoken about alright. Much ado about nothing really."

The sides meet in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday where despite the significant investment, the pitch cut up badly during the league. The venue was since used for an Ed Sheeran concert and Nash revealed that Cork hadn't trained there in recent weeks.

It's far from ideal but he believes the venue may not play like a home venue for Cork in much the same way many teams enjoy going to Semple Stadium.


"We haven't trained there sure. With the league and the pitch we weren't really using it as the pitch wasn't in the best condition at the time. And then with Ed Sheeran concert over the last few weeks we haven't had time to train there.

"But the thing about Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it's such a nice facility I think it's actually going to suit other teams coming there as well. It's nice to play at home in front of your own crowd but we enjoy in Thurles and I'd say every team in Munster and Ireland enjoys playing in Thurles. It is still Tipperary's home ground but I think people will feel the same about the Páirc when the see the stadium."

Cork have beaten Clare three times on the bounce in championship with the Banner's last victory coming in the 2013 All-Ireland final replay.

"From 2013 we owe them one still! I suppose we've played each other an awful lot in the last few years. The one thing about the two teams is there isn't much between them any day. Any time we go out and play them, we probably play a similar style of hurling to each other. Try and play a fast style of hurling.

"They can put up a cricket score on top of you before you know it. They have the potential to do it, to be so effective up front. With the free-taking competition, they could have been in the league semi-final against Tipperary just as quick so we know exactly what we're in for and they seem to have a very settled team throughout the league and they seem to be playing well together since the very start.

"I'm sure they're just going to take it as another championship game because, as I said, if you're looking for revenge and putting everything into one game, all of a sudden you've to go out six/seven days later again and refocus."

The action starts now and the stakes are high from the off with just three teams progressing from the group stage.

And Nash expects every game in the province to be a close run thing.

"Looking at the league, a free-taking competition settled Clare and Limerick. Extra-time had to separate Tipp and Limerick so you can see that those three teams are highly competitive. Ourselves and Waterford were in relegation (trouble), they beat us, we beat them (later in) the year so it's going to be incredibly tough.

"You could think I'm just sitting here to say that anyway but it actually is the fact of the matter. The form teams in Munster are Tipp, Limerick, Clare - ourselves and Waterford then were in the relegation, so it's really after making it highly competitive.

"Even last weekend, I didn't see the Kilkenny-Dublin game but it just shows how the new format can make it even more competitive than ever.

"It's going to be very hard. There's going to be two very good teams gone out of the championship in the middle of June."

Irish Independent

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