Nash expecting mighty Cork effort in last-chance saloon

Victory over Waterford would change the picture completely for the Rebel County

Watching the Cork hurlers struggle is bringing painful memories back for Anthony Nash.

It’s like 2016 all over again for the former goalkeeper who was powerless to prevent defeats to Tipperary and Wexford that summer, resulting in a Round 2 qualifier exit.

“It was the worst winter of my hurling career,” admitted Nash who recalled how himself and Alan Cadogan agreed to cut the ribbon at the opening of a friend’s shop that winter, only for less than half a dozen people to turn up.

“And one fella turned up just st to give us a rollicking. He absolutely abused us. He was like, ‘What are ye doing with Cork hurling? You’re a disgrace’.”

The current group of Cork hurlers have time on their side to turn things around. Beat Waterford on Sunday, and Tipperary seven days later, make it through to the All-Ireland series, and the defeats to Limerick and Clare would be forgotten. They would have momentum on their side too, and vital confidence, something Nash feels is sorely lacking.

“The difference for me is I think there’s a bit too much lateral play whereas it was go-forward play last year,” said Nash. “Last year it was get the ball, give a 20- or 30-yard pass and go again, try to create an overlap.

“This year, it’s ‘I’ll handpass it sideways and we’ll give it backwards’ and you’re allowing opposition like Waterford and Limerick to double up and tackle you. I’d like to see more of that go-forward play that they brought last year and I’d like to see one or two changes in the team on Sunday that might hopefully help it.”

Which changes in particular?

“I’d play Hoggy [Pat Horgan] at 11 and bring Tim O’Mahony into midfield,” said Nash. “I’m under the assumption that Ger Millerick is out so I’d put Robert Downey out on the wing and either have Daire O’Leary or Damien Cahalane on Michael Kiely and I’d put O’Mahony into midfield with Darragh Fitzgibbon. They have to do something different, create a bit of excitement in that dressing-room again.

The strings

“With Glen Rovers, he [Horgan] pulls the strings from centre-forward. Let off this whole GPS, basing it on movement. At the end of the day, when you have hands like his, you need to get him on the ball. I think centre-forward would free him up a bit and he’d enjoy it more himself because he’s not getting much ball inside with this game plan. Just try it, give it a go.”

Either way, Horgan will still become the championship’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday, presuming the free-taker scores more than two points, taking him above Joe Canning.

“I watched your man from Sydney Swans [Lance Franklin] get his 1000th goal,” said Nash of the AFL player. “I’m not expecting Walsh Park to flood in on top of Hoggy or anything like that but I hope, and please God he’s injury free and on the field, that a lot will be made of it because it’s an unbelievable achievement.”

* Anthony Nash was speaking at the launch of the EirGrid Power Play Awards. EirGrid, the official timing partner of the GAA, will recognise the power plays that shape the 2022 football and hurling championships.