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What's it like to face an Anthony Nash 21-yard free?

Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly explains how they prepared to face the Cork ‘keepers power.

Clare failed to keep out Nash's first-half free.
Clare failed to keep out Nash's first-half free.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

IF CORK HAD pulled off a miraculous comeback, it surely would have been remembered as the most iconic moment of an extraordinary match.

Even though they didn’t, Anthony Nash’s 21-yard free was an unforgettable incident in an All-Ireland hurling final replay packed full of them. As Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly reveals, the Banner had been preparing for Nash’s powerful strikes since the drawn game three weeks ago.

“Was it the Thursday after the match… Fitzy came over to me and came up with this great idea. It didn’t really work too great and I said, ‘What happens if he scores it with 13 men on the line?’ He said, ‘He’s supposed to score anyway’. He got it [on Saturday] and it was an unbelievable score to be honest.”

While nobody could rival the sheer power Nash generates from close range, Davy was keen to get his players used to putting 13 men on the line. Tony Kelly was a useful substitute for Nash in training sessions. Clare readied themselves for the challenge of Nash by facing up to Kelly’s blasts from the 21-yard line.

“Oh we did yeah. We weren’t hitting it with as much power as what he’d be hitting it but we practiced it, yeah.”

imageNash scores in Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay. ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

With such a congested mass of bodies, it was difficult for the defenders to get their hurley ups after Nash shot and Kelly says that keeping the effort out would have been a case of pure luck.

““The five normal penalty stoppers were in front and the seven or eight lads were behind with the hurleys up, but it’s just a case of hoping the ball hits you more so than getting your eye co-ordination to the ball because you’re not going to stop it.”

One potential solution to the problem was using bigger hurls, and Kelly admits he had several back-ups on the day.

““Yeah Davy got on to John Torpey and got seven or eight hurleys but I have them going home with me now in the back of the car. He won’t be seeing them again!

“Ah they were normal size, 36 big bas hurleys so he won’t be seeing them again. I’ll be hiding them away for a while anyway.”

Murph’s Sideline Cut: As their self belief grew, so Clare’s success became inevitable

The night the Clare hurlers drank MiWadi and ate biscuits in Davy’s house

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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