Something had to be done on ‘Anthony Nash’ rule to avoid further flashpoints
‘I think there’s a real need to look at this from the perspective of safety’
A photo-montage of Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash scoring from a penalty during an Allianz League match against Tipperary earlier this season. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.
I’m relieved by the news that this situation is to be looked at by the GAA’s management committee. I’d acknowledge that although goalkeepers have been taking penalties for a long time there was a particular excitement – and extraordinary skill – about Anthony Nash’s frees: coming up the field in last year’s All-Ireland finals and Clare lining the goals with the new hurleys added an amazing entertainment value.
But I also know that I wouldn’t like to be on the goal-line myself and would want more protection than a helmet if I was. Players on the line need additional protective equipment, like the box in cricket. I think there’s a real need to look at this from the perspective of safety, especially in under-age hurling where I really believe there’s danger.
I’m watching very young teams playing games in Dublin and everyone’s trying that technique. They generally can’t manage it but the most talented kid will hit maybe one in 10 but if he does hit someone on the line in an exposed place – which can easily happen particularly as those on the line mightn’t be the most adept and they may even just be there for the day – that’s the danger.
Sunday’s chaos in Thurles took it to a new level. There had to be clarification because the reality is if you’re allowed to charge a 20-metre free-taker or penalty-taker why can’t you charge every free-taker?
It’s only a question of finding someone quick enough over 20 metres to get in a block or maybe even a hook. If you’re going to deem that a touch on the hurley is the commencement of the strike you’re nearly better off on a normal 20-m free – there are stated encroachment restrictions pre-strike for those outside the line for penalties – to come from behind and hook him.
Nobody has ever taken that interpretation before. If you’re going to tolerate that interpretation for penalties and 20-metre frees you are going to have to tolerate it for all frees.
For me the solution is that any free or penalty must be struck before or on the 20-metre line. Because a penalty is a serious sanction I’d have it so that just the goalkeeper could be on the line, something I think goalkeepers would welcome and which would preserve the entertainment value.
Something had to be done and quickly with more potential flashpoints this weekend.