By Paul Keane
Tipperary legend Brendan Cummins has claimed that Eoin Murphy is hurling’s best goalkeeper — and that Anthony Nash lags behind in the mental strength department.
Former Tipp netminder Cummins said that two-time All-Star Nash needs to stop venting his emotions after conceding goals in particular.
Cummins said he’s noticed that Nash is “hopping around inside in the goals” and “going mad at everybody” after goal concessions, whereas Murphy shows little emotion.
Murphy, of course, is out of the Championship following Kilkenny’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Limerick, whereas Nash will be a key member of the Cork team that faces Limerick in Sunday’s semi-final.
Asked if Nash is the best goalkeeper in the Championship, Cummins shook his head: “No, Eoin Murphy. Murphy’s the man. I think the key difference between the two is that when Murphy concedes a goal he picks the ball out of the net and looks back up like nothing is after happening.
"I just think that can ripple up the pitch. I love watching Murphy when he concedes a goal: [He] throws the goalie hurley down, gets the ball out of the net and is looking around him straight away.
“It’s ‘what am I going to do next? That didn’t even happen, that wasn’t a goal at all, I don’t know what you’re all looking at!’ It has no affect.
“The other team is thinking, ‘fuck it, we’ve just scored a goal on that lad and all he wants to do now is see where he’s going to put his puck-out’. So, there’s no hoo-ha about that. I just think shot-stopping wise, decision-wise, influence on the game, the whole lot, for me Murphy is the man.”
Cummins, an All-Ireland winner under Nicky English in 2001, and again in 2010, when Liam Sheedy was in charge, admitted there was a time when he was too animated in goals himself.
Agreeing that Nash needs to improve his focus, Cummins said: “That’s really what it is. It’s actually something that happened me years ago. Nicky said it to me when I was waving balls wide inside in the goals and shouting, ‘it’s wide, it’s wide umpire!’— this was back in 2000 — and he said to me, ‘what are you jumping around the goals like that for? It’s either a point or it’s not’.
“I think you do have to be very conscious when you’re a goalkeeper about the signal you’re sending out, particularly when you concede a goal, that it’s not the end of the world.
“Whereas if you send the signal out that you’re going berserk, then the forward is thinking, ‘I have your man rattled’, and every one of their players back up the pitch is feeling a bit stronger too. It’s only a small thing, but it’s something I’ve noticed with Anthony Nash and something I haven’t noticed with Murphy. It just strikes me,” said Cummins
A figure associated with the Clare backroom team infamously tried to unsettle Nash before last year’s Munster final, when he stole the keeper’s bag of sliotars before throw-in and tossed them into the crowd.
“It was just to upset him,” said Cummins. “I think if you handed Murphy a square hurling ball, he’d go, ‘grand, I’ll play with that. I don’t mind’. He’s that raw, that kind of a good talent.”
Sunday Game pundit Cummins acknowledged that Nash has developed into a central player for Cork. He played down the fact that Limerick had some success off Nash’s puck-outs when the sides met in Munster, claiming that was mainly down to Cork’s poor use of their own extra man after Aaron Gillane’s dismissal.
However, he tipped Limerick to score an upset win on Sunday and to return to the final for the first time in 11 years.
“I think Cork this year, at three and six, teams have been getting at them,” said Cummins. “Harnedy and Lehane and Patrick Horgan have been doing enough damage up the other end. I know the object of the game is to outscore the other team, but Cork don’t seem to mind conceding 23 points. They just say, ‘well, we’ll score 26’. but I just think that might catch up with them at some stage and I think it will be Sunday.”
- Brendan Cummins was speaking at the launch of the 2018 M Donnelly Poc Fada All-Ireland final.