Nash rues no-win situation on rule changes

Anthony Nash wants one thing known: it’s not his rule.

It may be called the ‘Nash Rule’, and he may be stopped on the street and asked what is going to become of it all, but he is at a loss as to understand why. To be blunt, he’s plain sick of it all by now.

He’s been rising the sliotar that high and advancing that far whilst taking frees since he was a teenager. No-one batted an eyelid when he did it three years ago against Wexford. Now? Now everyone has an opinion on it.

Motion 40 was accepted onto the clár at Congress to prevent players from gaining extra yards when standing over dead balls, but the tide turned against change enough for and Cork to be successful in having it dropped.

Yet it’s still there, hanging over the season like a bad smell, as the association deliberates over where the discourse should turn next or whether the entire debate should be confined to the past. This week, Nash sat down to chat, on the back of his role promoting the Guinness Plus App, and though he begged leave from talking about it at first, he proceeded to inspect the entrails of the entire issue with a forensic eye for detail.

First up: does it bug him?

“It does and it doesn’t. People walk down the street and ask me what they are going to do with my rule.

“It’s not that it bugs me, I just want to know, what’s the reasoning behind it? If it 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, I can guarantee you that. There are fellas trying it already.”

Some ‘facts’ and observations he takes to task.

The difference in distance he gains when compared to an average forward he estimates to be about no more than two yards, max. It’s not as if he is even the hardest striker of a sliotar out there, he protests.

It is his technique — right hand on top but striking left handed — that requires such a high throw, as it takes him longer to complete his swing, and he’s adamant no-one would bat an eyelid if he was an ordinary forward or midfielder rather than a goalkeeper.

Another myth he’s keen to explode is the one about how he has ‘perfected’ the art itself. He hasn’t, he insists. Yes, he scored a goal from one against Tipperary in the recent league quarter-final, but they saved one from him at the death too.

Success is far from guaranteed. He suffered plenty of embarrassing failures of technique and execution down the years and expects to again, while he is clearly unconvinced about the ‘safety-first’ argument among the advocates of change.

“Picking up a ball and a fella flaking you is a risk and that’s hurling,” he explained. “It’s a great sport and I wouldn’t like to see it change and that’s not trying to protect my so-called rule.

“Every time you go to play hurling it’s a risk you are taking, and it’s been going okay. Everyone comments about how great the championship has been [last] year so I can’t see the reason behind changing it.”

He’s heard the alternatives: ban the bigger bás, remove two men from the line for penalties, bring the penalty or free-taker back further — but all of them are skewered by simple and unequivocal arguments. The bás a goalkeeper uses is not much bigger to those handled by outfield player, one-man on the line would be an invitation to wave not a white flag but a green one, while the argument about moving the taker back leaves him in something of a quandary.

“I am on both sides of it as I am going to be standing in for one of them as well. As a goalkeeper, I think they should be striking from the 45 with five fellas on the line. As a forward I think they should just be 13 yards out and have nobody in the goals.”

Nash, it seems, just can’t win.


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