Anthony Nash draws line under Clare sliotar saga

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash insists there’s no lingering bad blood between he and Clare over last year’s Munster final sliotar saga.

Anthony Nash draws line under Clare sliotar saga

A bag of Nash’s sliotars was taken by Niall O’Connor, son of joint Clare manager Gerry, just before throw-in and thrown into the Killinan End terrace in Thurles.

The Clare County Board apologised at the time and joint Banner boss Donal Moloney also contacted then Cork manager Kieran Kingston.

Now, ahead of Sunday’s rematch with Clare in the Munster championship, Nash reveals Niall O’Connor himself also called to say sorry.

“The guy that did it, he rang me after apologising and stuff but it was fine, it was nothing really,” said Nash.

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 rang me and I said, ‘Look, I’m putting it to bed’. I’d say he just thought it was the right thing to do (to steal the bag) and I suppose it added to the whole day really.”

Nash admitted his initial reaction to the theft was shock.

“It’s not something you’re expecting, going around after the national anthem and next thing you’re running back into your goal and the fella looking after your hurleys is roaring at you, ‘Your sliotars are gone!’ I had to ask him three times to see what he was saying because I just didn’t believe it. But we had it sorted in seconds thankfully and off we went then again.”

Cork will enjoy home advantage at Páirc Ui Chaoimh for Sunday’s rematch with the Banner in Round 1 of the Munster championship.

It remains to be seen exactly how much playing at home counts for in Cork’s case as the players are still getting used to the glamorous new venue.

Nash only featured there once in this year’s league, against Waterford in February, and the panel haven’t trained much there generally.

We don’t train there,” said two-time All-Star Nash. “Obviously with the league, the pitch, we weren’t really using it, the pitch wasn’t in the best condition at the time. Then obviously with the Ed Sheeran concert over the last few weeks we haven’t had an awful lot of time to train there.

“The thing about Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it’s such a nice facility that I think it’s actually going to suit other teams coming there as well.

“It’s obviously nice playing in front of your home crowd but I don’t think the pitch is going to make anything extra... like, we enjoy playing in Thurles, I’d say every team in Munster and Ireland enjoys playing in Thurles. It is still Tipperary’s home ground.

“I think people will feel the same about Páirc Ui Chaoimh when they get to see the stadium and that. Look, it’ll be nice to play there, you would expect a larger Cork crowd, pitch advantage or home advantage.”

Nash said he’d like to have trained more in Páirc Ui Chaoimh ahead of Sunday’s provincial opener but insisted it won’t be used as any excuse.

“I suppose you would have,” he said. “We got to play two league games there this year and we trained there a bit last year coming into the All-Ireland semi-final as well, so we kind of know it alright. But I wouldn’t say we know it as well as anything.

As I said, with Páirc Ui Chaoimh and Thurles, they are good surfaces and it’s an experience to play there so it wouldn’t be a huge advantage (to Cork) really.

The Páirc Ui Chaoimh pitch was heavily sanded earlier in the year and was criticised by some commentators for its patchy surface.

Operations manager Bob Ryan explained that this was down to a “lack of light” throughout the winter months and that this would be addressed with grow lights.

“The stadium is only open six months and everything has to come in its own time,” said Ryan.

Nash said he’s optimistic now that the pitch will be in pristine condition for the start of the Championship.

He’s also hopeful that they will get a run out at the ground before playing Clare.

“Hopefully, it hasn’t been confirmed but hopefully we’ll get to go there and have a puck around and get used to the surface,” he said.

“Clare played a game there last year competitively as well, in the quarter-finals, so I don’t think they’ll fear it. The stadium itself is class. It’s unbelievable. It’s class to see it and class to play in, it’s like a mini Croke Park. Hopefully the surface will hold up.

“I’m hoping to get down there to get a puck around but I’m not making a (big issue of it). It can be used as a big thing but it is not a massive thing. My first time playing in Croke Park was in 2012 and I had never played there before for Cork and it was an All-Ireland semi-final so I had to get used to a new pitch then as well, so we just trust the groundsmen and they seem to be doing a good job on it so hopefully it will be good for Sunday and ready to rock and that it won’t be a talking factor.”

- Anthony Nash is a style ambassador for Littlewoods Ireland and launched their #StyleOfPlay campaign for the 2018 All-Ireland SHC. Littlewoods Ireland’s ‘Style My Wall’ competition has a grand prize valued at €10,000.

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