Number one Nash eager for the new campaign
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash: "I always hoped I would get the chance." photograph: cathal noonan/inpho
We came armed with hard questions, about Cork’s apparent discontent, the awkwardness of their new number one goalkeeper, and yet left disappointed, Anthony Nash assuring us it was all rumour, and Donal Óg Cusack was “still a good friend”.
But then Nash wouldn’t have shown up at the Allianz Hurling League launch in Croke Park if it was any other way: Nash took over as Cork number one goalkeeper last summer, when Cusack was injured, and ended up winning his first All Star.
And sure there’s always talk of discontent with Cork hurling, isn’t there?
“If it was coming from inside the camp it might worry you alright,” says Nash, “but it’s not. So it’s the same as any year, just these rumours, stuff written, on the outside. But there’s absolutely nothing happening on the inside.”
Nash doesn’t shy away from the goalkeeping issue or the fact Cusack was last month dropped from the panel by manager Jimmy Barry Murphy.
“I sent him a text, as he was in America, thanking him for everything. Look, he’s been a super help to me, since I first joined the panel. It’s my seventh or eighth year on the panel, and he was always trying to improve me. Even last year, when he was injured, he brought me up to Croke Park, just to get used to the atmosphere. He’s been a great servant to Cork GAA”
Nash does accept that it was a big call, by Barry Murphy, to let Cusack go. For 13 years he’d been the first name on the Cork team sheet, and while the Achilles tendon tear last spring raised concerns about his future, the assumption was Cusack still had more to offer.
“Sure that’s what management are paid millions for,” says Nash with a smile. “But I worry about my own game. Darren McCarthy is in there now as well, as goalkeeper, and Martin Coleman as well before. So you can only worry about your own standards.
“And that’s all I’ll be worrying about against Tipperary on Saturday, believe me.”
Nash’s patience has paid off, and after so many years as the understudy, his time as number one has simply come. “Well I wouldn’t say that either. Darren is playing well as well. It is a personal role, you have to perform, every time, and that’s my intention for the league.”
He did make one championship appearance against Waterford in 2007, when Cusack was suspended, and ended up letting in five goals.
“There were times you would question it, why you’re still hanging around. I’m 28, now, or 23 in goalkeeping years, as I’d rather say. But I enjoyed last year, really, and winning the All Star at the end of it just topped it off.
“But I just love hurling. There’s great tradition there, my family, the Nashs with Limerick, and every time I went training with Cork it was a fantastic set-up. And I always brought that back to the club, Kanturk. I always hoped I would get the chance. I suppose it came along unexpectedly, but I was glad to take it, and so far am enjoying every minute of it.”
At one stage it appeared Coleman would take over as number one, having been named in goal for Cork’s league final against Kilkenny; three goals later, that changed, but Nash also pays tribute to his commitment.
“That day against Kilkenny, well they go for the jugular, no secret. But I learnt a lot off him as well. He’s still one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
“But the hurling goalkeeper has evolved so much. I’d love to just hoof the ball out, but you have to achieve more. Goalkeepers have to find players accurately, not just stop balls. I’ve spoken to Donal Óg about that, and would still consider him a good friend.”