Sport Hurling

Monday 22 January 2018

Nash fears change to 21-yard rule will hurt game's traditions

Anthony Nash isn't about to change the way he strikes his frees. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Anthony Nash isn't about to change the way he strikes his frees. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The 'Anthony Nash rule' has caused quite a stir over the last 12 months but the player himself has shrugged off the notion that he is doing anything wrong by striking 21-yard frees closer to the goal.

The sight of 11 Clare players lining the goalmouth in last year's All-Ireland final replay was a sight to behold but Nash maintains that his ability to still find the back of the net is a skill in its own right.

As soon as Nash is asked about 'his rule', both barrels are loaded as he sets the record straight.

"Let me go on record: it's not my rule. I don't know where this thing's come from," he stated firmly.

"I've never, ever come across a forward in my life that picks the ball on the 21 and hits it on the 21 and people are on about me breaking the rules.

"If you measured it up between the top forwards that have taken frees in the country and me, I guarantee you I'm only gaining two yards max. The only difference is I've to throw it up further because I'm slower to get into it."

The Kanturk man has come in for plenty of criticism for his free-taking style and the fact that the GAA chiefs have put off deciding whether or not to introduce a new rule means that Nash is likely to face further scrutiny this year.

One thing is for certain, until the rules are changed, he isn't about to alter the way he strikes frees.

"I'd like to know who's coming up with the rules and why. If it's for the betterment of hurling then 100pc, I'll get behind it. It's like the black card in football, you just develop your game and move on with it," Nash said. "I don't think it's as big a deal as people have been writing about and saying. It's like soccer – when you look at the summer, it's the silly season in soccer.

"The winter is the silly season for GAA and unfortunately I was the one that seemed to be written about the most."

One of the major things that irritates Nash is that his technique isn't a new phenomenon. "It's something I've been doing since I was 19 or 20 and I saw it being done before that. It's something that I fell flat on my backside trying on numerous occasions. Everybody's on about that I've perfected an art or something like that.

KILL

"I did it three years ago against Wexford and there was nothing spoken about it. All of a sudden there's uproar that I'm breaking the rules and I'm going to kill someone."

The fact that Nash faces 21-yard frees as well as taking them himself means that he can see both sides of the argument but he fears that if a rule was brought in, it would open the door for other changes.

"It's difficult for me because I am on both sides of it as I'm going to be standing in for one of them as well.

"If a rule change is for the safety of players then fine but if a full-forward catches the ball in front of me, can they ask him to take it out to the 21 and strike it from there?

"If a fella turns and strikes the ball at me from six yards out, unfortunately, reactions aren't fast enough to get out of the way.

"There's going to be fellas who'll do the same against me. The irony of it all is that I'll be the one who gets the belt into the throat."

One suggestion for the new proposed rule is for the ball to be struck from the 21-yard line with just one person on the line.

Nash scoffed at the notion as he believes it would harm the traditions of the game.

"I still think it's a fantastic skill to score a goal on three fellas. It's hurling. How long has that rule been there, three fellas on the line? Why change it now, just because a few people have been speaking about it? Look, leave hurling the way it is, don't change it.

"One minute everyone is saying how great the championship has become and then all of a sudden there are fellas saying 'change their hurleys, change the sliotars, change whatever'.

"You are only going to take away from the skill which in turn is going to take away from hurling as a whole. So I couldn't agree with anything like that coming in.

"I have played against forwards who have had a big bás on their hurley and the skill they have is phenomenal and I still wouldn't take it away from them," he added.

For now, Nash is fully focused on building on Cork's league campaign, which he maintains was hugely beneficial given how many players were blooded.

Despite his wishes for the 'Nash rule' to be put to bed, once the Munster championship begins, you get the feeling that the issue will rear its head once again.

Irish Independent

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