Monday 22 January 2018

Nash's gunslinger style pushing the boundaries in sport's game of inches

Al Pacino in his role as coach Tony D'Amato
Al Pacino in his role as coach Tony D'Amato

Diarmuid Lyng - Off the Ball

'The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second'.

Al Pacino as coach Tony D'Amato understood the value of inches in sport, highlighted by the much-quoted speech he gives in his final game coaching the Sharks in the American football epic 'Any Given Sunday'.

He might well have been referring to a different kind of inches in an NFL dressing-room, a place where testosterone appears as valuable a commodity as any other, but nevertheless, it comes down to inches.

The value of inches has always been understood in Cork. And Anthony Nash is the new purveyor of that knowledge.

Nash intimately understands the value of every single inch of ground he passes from the first flick of the hurl on the 21-yard line to the time he's connecting with the ball in and around the 14-yard line.

He seems to me to be the personification of the inside of a gun, a slow-motion look at how a static force in nature can become responsible for releasing an object at a speed beyond that which makes sense to our eyes.

But Nash isn't happy with the fact that he can hit the ball harder than probably anyone in the game. He also understands the value of inches.

There's a price to pay for his technique, the reason this hasn't been done as effectively up to now. Tossing the ball so far ahead means lessening the chance of hitting the sweet spot. The ability to get your body forward in time so that you are in sync with the ball's flight as it falls from that height is not easily done. No one has ever stolen the inches as successfully as Nash has done.

In fact, it seemed like he was gaining such an unfair advantage that referee Brian Gavin made an exception for Patrick Kelly coming off his line to take a Nash bullet to his lower back. Bravery like that deserves rewards.

It's when players push boundaries and try things we've never seen that rule books are removed and fallacies of what can be done are extended that little bit further.

Stealing inches brings the game forward and removes our mentally constricting boundaries so we can explore new possibilities and revel at why it wasn't all done before. It's people and players looking for the extra inch that open that door.


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