Anthony Nash will always be remembered for the role he played in revolutionising penalties in hurling, but the Cork goalkeeper has gone on record to say that he couldn’t care if he never took one again.
It was Nash’s ability to gain yards by lifting the sliotar some yards forward before unleashing a strike of prodigious power that prompted the GAA authorities to tear up the existing rules and start afresh this last two seasons.
Gone are the three defending players on the line for penalties, replaced instead with just the one sentinel. So, too, the tactic of players stealing inches or yards from the designated spot.
Changed times, indeed.
The winds of change have seemingly swept through Cork as well with Nash, who was an unwitting focal point in the whole debate that gripped hurling, stepping back from the offensive side of his erstwhile duties.
“I’m happy for Patrick Horgan to take them,” he said. “Or Paudie (O’Sullivan), or anyone. Once we get the three points on the board. If I was to never hit a penalty again it wouldn’t bother me, once we win the games.”
The end of an era, then? Possibly.
As for the rule itself, Nash was reason personified, just as he was when he found himself in the eye of the storm. If it’s best for hurling, he said, then it was fine with him though a general consensus will take more time.
“After this season is done, and whether it is seen as a success, then (people) may start forgetting about it, but it is still in a trial process to a certain degree, but whatever is better for the game.”
Nash has faced just the one penalty under the ‘new’ regulations, against UCC in the Canon O’Brien Cup last January, but plenty has happened in the interim of what he and others will deem to be of more importance.
Most recent has been the Allianz League final loss to Waterford and the subsequent news that Déise forward and talisman Pauric Mahony has been ruled out of the upcoming championship meeting between the sides and the rest of the season.
Nash and Cork know how their approaching opposition feel given they lost Paudie O’Sullivan in similar circumstances a handful of years ago and Christopher Joyce earlier this year when he was injured playing against Dublin.
“The way we look at it in the GAA — Waterford will be the same, their management team and he’ll be the first to say it — they’ll push on, they just have to push on. When Paudie got injured for us … it was very hard for us.
“I’ll never forget when it happened. We were out training and we came back in, there was a kind of an ill feeling in the dressing room and I said ‘what’s wrong lads?’. They said ‘Oh, Paudie broke his leg’.
“At that time Paudie and Lorcan (McLoughlin) had been two of our best players in the league. To lose a fella like that, you’re thinking negative straight away. He was the one guy who said ‘push on’. Joycey was the same.
“I’m sure Pauric will be the same, it’ll give another guy there a chance to express themselves.”
Cork have their own concerns, of course, given the comprehensive nature of the defeat to Waterford, but Nash is adamant the panel is “mature” enough to handle the criticism and move on.
“On the Sunday coming home on the bus we were all hurting. We wanted to win the league when we were in the final. It doesn’t matter what game you are in you want to win it. We have to pick ourselves up and regroup and we will, starting next week when we are all back together.”
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