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'It's the best year I've ever had with the club, it's unbelievable'

Anthony Nash and Kanturk are preparing for a Munster club IHC final on Sunday.

ANTHONY NASH MADE his debut with Kanturk as a 16-year-old back when they were in junior ranks.

AIB Munster GAA Hurling Senior Club Championship Final Media Day Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

That was in 2001. Now 32, he was between the posts last month as his club sealed promotion to Cork senior ranks by lifting the intermediate hurling title.

On Sunday, they take on Clare’s Kilmaley in the AIB Munster club final. It’s been some journey and they’re not finished yet.

“I started 2001 in the junior,” says Nash, who’s been a regular for Cork since Donal Og Cusack retired.

“I was nearly late for the match, the first one I played because I was on the Cork minor hurling panel, I was sub goalkeeper.

“We played the Munster final against Tipperary on the Sunday and that evening Kanturk had their first junior championship match of that year. I had to come down, take the jersey off the fella who was going into goals, and go in.

“I was 16. To go senior with Kanturk is incredible. It won’t sink in I think until the draw is made, which will be tough enough as it is. I just think that when I retire and maybe look back and look at it and the stages we’ve gone through, it’s pretty incredible. The fact that we’ve won two intermediates in Cork.”

The Kanturk footballers also won the Cork intermediate title, rounding off an remarkable year for the club.

“It’s unbelievable,” he says. “I suppose you’d always dream of doing it but couldn’t believe we’d actually do it. The biggest thing with us is that we have, I think, 12 of the starting football team had played hurling.

“So we’ve a crossover, we’ve a tiny panel for both. We’ve like 30, 32 players that actually cover both codes. Coming up to the county hurling final, two weeks beforehand, the boys were getting ready to play football so I’m one of the non-footballers and we’d five at training, which is incredible when you look at it.

AIB Munster GAA Hurling Senior Club Championship Final Media Day Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

“We’re very lucky this year that we’ve Jim McCarthy from Glen Rovers came down to coach us and Jim opened his arms completely to the dual. He said no problem at all this is the way the club is.

“That fed into the players. There was no arguments. He worked with Jerome Walsh, Aidan (Walsh)’s uncle, as football manager. The two of them worked very well together and we balanced the two.

“It’s the best year I’ve ever had with the club, it’s unbelievable. The talent was there the last few years. We came of age really this year. We were in county semi-finals in hurling before but I don’t think we were ready but this year we were, thank God.”

Nash packed playing club football a couple of years ago to focus on his hurling.

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“Look I’m a hurler. I felt it was getting in the way and I was picking up silly knocks. I was training for a goalkeeper in hurling and playing outfield for football. So I had to change my game completely for training sessions and stuff.

“So all I would say is that I wanted to prolong my hurling career. I was asked did I miss it (the football)? Look I was the happiest man in Kanturk and I teach in Mitchelstown. Of course you miss out playing with the lads but I just felt I was benefiting more in hurling from not playing football.”

He’s keen to praise his club and county team-mate Lorcán McLoughlin for the trojan work he has done in Kanturk.

“Look, I can’t speak highly enough of Lorcán,” Nash says. “He was the chairman of the juvenile board last year.

Anthony Nash, Aidan Walsh John McLoughlin and Lorcan McLoughlin celebrate Anthony Nash, Aidan Walsh John McLoughlin and Lorcan McLoughlin celebrate their Cork IHC win in 2013 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“He’s the epitome of Kanturk, him and his brother John. I could go through the whole team but I think everyone in Kanturk would realise the two McLoughlins have been immense for us and the effort they’ve put into the club.

“We built the gym a few years ago and John was the driving force behind it. It’s fellas like that. We played Mallow in the county final, the keeper made a save from a penalty, I came up to take it and I must say – I’m not patting myself on the back – it was an incredible save.

“The initial reaction, I was gutted, and the ball broke to Lorcán. I couldn’t have picked a better man in the field and he put it over the bar. He’s been like that for years for Kanturk. To have him to look up to is incredible.”

They face a dangerous proposition in Banner intermediate champions Kilmaley on Sunday. They reached the Clare senior semi-finals in 2015 before their shock relegation last year.

“We won in Cork and a fella came up to me after and said ‘Look I don’t know how ye’re going to prepare for the Munster championship, whether ye want to give it a go or not. But if ye are to take it seriously, it is going to be Kilmaley ye’ll be facing, they’re very, very good.’

“Apparently it was a huge shock in Clare that they got relegated and they’re supposed to be rated top five teams in Clare at any grade. So we’re under no illusions. Getting to a Munster final for the club, we know we’re going in as huge underdogs. But isn’t it great to say that we’re there. There’s a great buzz and it won’t be for the want of trying.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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