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Looking to Jordan Spieth for mental preparation and finding solace in All-Ireland club success

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash is gearing up for another championship season after bowing out in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.

CORK GOALKEEPER ANTHONY Nash made the ideal return to club duty with Kanturk shortly after losing the All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Waterford last year.

Littlewoods Ireland All-Ireland Hurling Championship Launch Anthony Nash is an ambassador for Littlewoods Ireland. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

A clash with Charleville was coming up the weekend after their 11-point defeat in Croke Park, but Kanturk coach Jim McCarthy ordered him to stay away from training on the Monday night and process the defeat before getting back on the pitch.

Nash returned to training later in the week where McCarthy and company gave him the welcome he needed to draw a line under that disappointment and help switch his focus onto Kanturk.

“I went in Wednesday and the first thing he did was take the piss out of me about the Cork lads losing.

It just put a smile straight back on my face and that was it — job done — and I was there to concentrate on Kanturk. And then going on to win the county was brilliant.

“I try to separate the two as much as I can and when people ask if I enjoyed something more than this or that, I don’t enjoy anything more than each other. Winning an All-Ireland with Kanturk was brilliant and winning a Munster with Cork was brilliant. Please God if I ever got the opportunity to win an All-Ireland with Cork, it would be the same thing.

“It was nice to go home to the lads, they’re sound. They knew we were disappointed obviously and just brought you straight back into the group as if you had been there all year. That was the best thing about it.”

Kanturk went on to win the All-Ireland intermediate title the following February with a dramatic one-point victory over Kilkenny side St Patrick’s Ballyragget, an achievement which Nash attributes to the club members who ‘put in huge efforts over the years.’

Anthony Nash celebrates winning Anthony Nash celebrating Kanturk's All-Ireland Intermediate triumph. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Reaching the summit with his local team also helped soothe the pain of bowing out to the Deise the previous summer at the penultimate stage of the All-Ireland SHC.

A new championship campaign beckons once again for Cork this weekend [against Clare], and with it comes a new round robin format in the Munster and Leinster competitions.

Nash believes that ‘form, confidence and injuries’ are among the key factors that could determine the eventual winner of the Munster championship, as Cork look to defend their crown.

“A fella could pick up a slight injury and miss the whole Munster championship”, says Nash, “especially if you’re three weeks in-a-row like we are. But hopefully it won’t happen.”

The new round-robin structure drew criticism last weekend when Kilkenny boss Brian Cody and GAA analyst Michael Duignan both expressed their frustrations at how the relegation process will work in both provinces.

“Not because I’m from Offaly, but Offaly have the smallest panel probably [in Leinster],” said Duignan on the Sunday Game, “and they have games four matches four weeks in-a-row. Whoever finishes bottom, they’re relegated, whereas whoever finishes bottom of Munster will at least get a play-off if Kerry win.

“You have two different rules for the same championship which is nonsensical. This happens at Congress, these are people up there to guard against this, and continually these things happen and they don’t realise the implications until it’s too late.”

Nash says that Kerry are entitled to an upgrade if they can earn their place in the Munster championship, but he doesn’t want to lose any of the current teams in the competition to relegation.

I’d hate to see one of the teams currently in Munster not be in Munster [next year].

“I’m sure Leinster are the same. You’re trying to improve hurling. If Kerry won their competition, they’re fully right to come up. Kerry hurling is very strong and very passionate. I’d find it very tough to see a Munster team out of it.

“Offaly put it up to Galway for a bit of the time [last weekend] and their manager Kevin Martin says they’re always trying to improve so I don’t think either championship is more competitive than the other. I don’t think anyone would be looking at anyone as a walkover.”

Mental preparation is of major significance to Nash. Cork goalkeepers have always been physically fit, and Nash does he best to uphold that tradition. It also makes him feel better in himself.

But being psychologically fit is critical for him, and golf is a sport that helps him get his mind ready for games. Being left-sided, he looks to Phil Mickelson for ways to improve his striking technique, while Jordan Spieth has the mental fortitude that inspires him to achieve.

PGA: THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

“The mental side of it”, says Nash, “you’d have to say that Jordan Spieth is incredible with that. He has won so many tournaments coming from nowhere. It just shows you the mental strength around the course but I’m sure if you ask any of those people what gives them the mental strength, I’d say it’s practise and preparation.

“You’re going in happy with your golf swing and you know coming up to the next shot that you can do it again. That’s the way I’d be looking at golf as well. They spend so long on the range and know they’ve hit the same shot a thousand times over.

For me, it’s just experience. Trying to think about what could happen or what did happen before. You get yourself in a position to realise that you have probably faced the ball that you’re going to receive a hundred times in training or as a young fella.

“It’s just trying to stay positive. I don’t really have any set exercise that I do. I just make sure at training that the repetitions of touch, shot-stopping, striking and handling is good so that I’m leaving training in a happy place in my hurling more than anything and then the mind follows.”

Anthony Nash was in Dublin to launch Littlewoods Ireland’s #StyleOfPlay campaign.

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