Sport Hurling

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Blocking Nash thunderbolts comes down to luck – Pa Kelly

Anthony Nash scored a thunderbolt free in Saturday's All-Ireland final replay
Anthony Nash scored a thunderbolt free in Saturday's All-Ireland final replay
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Strength in numbers was not the answer to Anthony Nash's thunderbolt free on Saturday, Clare goalkeeper Pa Kelly has conceded.

Kelly revealed that his manager Davy Fitzgerald had come up with the plan for massed defence on the Thursday after the drawn game and had also ordered an extra set of hurls with a 36-inch bas to hand the defenders if and when the moment came.

But the Inagh Kilnamona man admitted Nash struck his first-half free with so much ferocity that nothing could have stopped it.

"Fitzy came over to me and came up with this great idea. It didn't work too great. I asked, 'what happens if he scores it with 13 (12 actually stood) men on the line?' He said, 'he's supposed to score anyway'. He got it and it was an unbelievable score."

Clare practised the drill with their own Tony Kelly generating the power at training but Kelly acknowledged they gathered more in hope than expectation.

"The five normal penalty stoppers were in front and the seven or eight lads were behind with the hurleys up but it's just a case of hoping the ball hits you more so than getting your eye co-ordination to the ball – because you're not going to stop it."

The only positive side of it for Kelly was the specially ordered hurleys which have made their way into his possession!

"Davy got on to John Torpey (hurley maker) and got seven or eight hurleys but I have them going home in the back of the car. He won't be seeing them again!"

Kelly admitted that avoiding Kilkenny and Tipperary en route to the final was "nice" and will act as an extra "spur" for next season.

It was the Kilkenny game in the league which he felt underlined their credentials as possible future All-Ireland champions.

"When Kilkenny came down to Cusack Park and you were within a point of them, and we probably should have beaten them, I think lads got a lot of belief that day.

"You were coming away that evening thinking, 'we are not too far off the mark'. Kilkenny and Tipp were the main teams. We had got a clipping against Tipp after but we learned lessons that evening. As a young team you have to get a beating to bring you on."

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