"I got woeful abuse on Twitter after the All-Ireland final that year" - game-changer still going his own way
He has a rule-change named after him. He brought puck-outs to new levels. He won two All-Stars.
Not bad for a player who spent the first half of his inter-county career on the bench. Anthony Nash has retired now, having rocked the game with his own invention, but he's still doing his own thing and going his own way about it.
A Kanturk player all his life, Nash has transferred to South Liberties in Limerick where it was always his dream to finish his career.
"We won an All-Ireland with Kanturk in 2017," he explains in a memorable GAA Hour interview with Colm Parkinson, "and I remember looking around seeing my teammates hugging their cousins, brothers, uncles. My family were there, but we're the only family out of my family who played for Kanturk. While I had my best friends on the field and it was one of the best feelings of my career, I just would love to be able to put on the same jersey as my family did. I'll be like a little ten-year-old running onto the field the first time I get the chance to!"
"Both sides of my family are from Limerick," Nash explains, "My mother's nephew played with them and my father had five of his brothers on the team. I used to watch them playing growing up and always in my heart, I wanted to play with them. Kanturk were fantastic, they knew the transfer form was going to come and they said it was a lovely way to finish out my career..."
Inter-club transfers aren't usually plain-sailing, but Nash's move is for all the right reasons.
Looking back on his 20 years playing for Cork makes the goalkeeper feel old. A long apprenticeship was served before he finally got his break onto the senior team and even though the wilderness was a challenging place to be, under Donal Óg Cusack, he was learning from the very best.
"Frustrations and doubt were there as to whether I was ever going to be good enough to make it. There were a couple of times I would have come home and I was demoralised but my family would have talked me back into it, telling me I was good enough. I never really believed it.
It's a goalkeeper SPECIAL today 🧤
- Raymond Galligan and Anthony Nash discuss the tricks of the trade 1⃣
We also talk:
- Water breaks being here to stay
- Let the children play
- Paddy Bradley's phone call to Eamon Coleman
🎧https://t.co/ftWwa8mA0b 🎧 pic.twitter.com/tK56gkjf9T
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) March 11, 2021
"Even when I was 16, back in 2001 when we won the minor All-Ireland, my father helped get me a trial. He rang a guy and said ' look I think he's good enough.' We would have had war in the house because I didn't think I was up to it at all. I was behind two goalkeepers at the time who were definitely superior to me. It was just about biding my time..."
He got his chance and he grasped it. The fact that it came when he was 27 rather than 21 meant he really was both ready and raring for it. It wasn't long before he was literally changing the game.
"Kieran 'the hero' Murphy used to do a similar enough style," Nash says of his distinctive penalties.
"He was the first guy I ever saw doing it. The reason I threw it up higher was I suppose to steal those yards, but there was many training match or game with Kanturk when they went pear-shaped and I would have ended up on my arse trying to chase the ball."
In 2013, Nash's penalties and frees were the game's biggest thrill on the game's biggest day. By 2014, they were out-lawed on safety grounds after Stephen O'Keeffe charged his exaggerated lift down only to be left with the mother and father of all bruises.
Not sure if there was anything more exciting than watching @AnthonyNash6 walk up the filed to hit a penalty/21. The buzz it brought to the game. Wishing you All the best with the retirement.
— brian whelahan (@BWhelahan) December 6, 2020
"The big thing for me, I just remember in 2013, turning around and seeing my teammates celebrating. As a goalkeeper, you don't really see the emotions of the other players or you don't get the adulation unless you save a penalty, I just saw them jumping for joy, that was great to see."
"I never had an issue with the rule-change because ironically, Tony Kelly and TJ Reid were getting good at it so I was glad they had to be back behind the 21. The only issue I ever had was the timing of the rule-change."
A timing that saw him lumped with the blame when Tipperary had two penalties saved in the 2014 All-Ireland finals.
"All of a sudden, in the middle of the championship, the rule was changed, we were lucky because we had Patrick Horgan but I remember I got woeful abuse on Twitter after the All-Ireland final that year. Kilkenny played Tipp and Kilkenny hacked two Tipp boys down to give away penalties, and sure it was outside the 21 with three on the line - both were saved, it was obviously disadvantageous for the penalty taker and sure I was blamed for it!"
"Ah no, I had no issue with it," he laughs, "the later I got into my career, I would have had to throw the ball higher because I would have been too slow to make it!"
Those Anthony Nash frees/penalties were pure and utter carnage pic.twitter.com/ZnDSW4xWO2
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) August 5, 2020
Far-from a one-trick-pony, drilled puck-outs were another weapon in Nash's armoury. In this country, only the brave survive, and Nash took lessons from his predecessor with him,
"Go again. It was one of the things Donal Og taught me. He used to do similar puck-outs back in the day. If one went wrong, he'd go for it again. He said to me 'they expect you to go wrong. go again.'
"That's why Donal Og was so good. He had no fear of stepping back. He never took a step back, stubborn and strong in his mind about his own ability."
Nash was cut from the same cloth.
"You're going to make me out as some sort of nutter with worn in sliotars and penalties," he says to Parkinson by the interview's end.
The inter-county game has lost a man who brought both colour and excitement. That's a big loss in any language.
"In a weird way, I think it was a good time to get out of it because with Covid and the restrictions, it's just not the same at the moment and it wasn't the same last year. Will I miss it? Of course I will miss it but for now, I'm okay thank God."