For the bones of a year between 2013 and 2014, one rule was discussed far more than others in the hurling world. On the June 8, 2014, the Anthony Nash penalty was ended forever.
Anthony Nash scored his first ever senior inter-county hurling championship penalty in 2012. This particular fixture was a qualifier match in which Cork toppled Wexford.
Cork strolled to victory, and Nash notched 1-1 from placed balls. Nothing much was thought of the Kanturk goalkeeper’s penalty at the time.
Commentator Ger Canning did notice how far Nash had lifted the ball, saying that it looked like the strike was closer to being 15 metres from goal as oppose to 20.
Nothing else was thought of this penalty until September 2013. This became Nash’s next opportunity to display this exceptional skill of his.
With Cork and Clare battling it out in the 2013 All-Ireland final, Cork were awarded a penalty. Nash’s penalty technique was still somewhat unknown at this point.
Patrick Kelly, Nash’s Clare counterpart was well-aware of the trick. Nash actually missed two on the day, while still netting one goal.
Interestingly, in the clip above, Kelly actually raced off his line to meet Nash when the ball was being struck. No action was originally taken against Kelly’s decision. In the second half, Kelly was in fact warned to stay on his line.
Debate had been begun on Kelly’s actions. He had actually committed a foul by rushing towards Nash. However it was pointed out that it was impossible for Patrick Kelly to obey the rule. This was unanimously agreed upon at the time.
Opinions would soon change, but more on that later.
By the time the replay had rolled around, Nash’s advancing penalties had become a major talking point. The dangerous nature of it was being discussed, while techniques to stop it were also being discussed.
When Pa Cronin was fouled in the first half of the replay, the capacity crowd at Croke Park knew what was on the way.
Nash made his way up the field to take the awarded penalty. What ensued was chaos. Clare lined the goal with 13 players. It wasn’t enough however and Nash buried the free from approximately 13 metres out.
The confusion began almost immediately afterwards. Michael Duignan defended Nash’s right to use the technique. He did also label it as ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous’ however.
In the second half, referee James McGrath showed his confusion as to how to deal with the technique also. On two occasions Cork hurlers were fouled on the 20 metre line. McGrath proceeded to move the ball back on both occasions.
By doing so, McGrath ensured that the ball would be struck at the 20 metre line, rather than being lifted from the same spot. Nash didn’t score any more frees in the game.
Debate went long into the Winter. Almost everybody outside of Cork was in favour of a rule being introduced to disable Nash’s ability to use his technique.
However, those in the Rebel County argued that every free-taker was guilty of committing the same foul as Nash. Chaos had well and truly begun.
Others had now begun to perfect the ‘Nash penalty.’ Tj Reid in particular had become an expert in how to strike in a similar fashion.
Which brings us to this date three years ago. After a shock performance by Waterford, they had brought Cork to a replay.
There had been no penalties conceded by the Deise in the first fixture. This of course meant we saw no controversy regards penalty taking.
However, Waterford were clearly prepared. When Cork were awarded a penalty in the replay, Nash not surprisingly made his way up to take the penalty.
Stephen O’Keeffe, the Waterford goalkeeper, knew what he had to do. He decided to emulate Patrick Kelly and rush towards Nash.
The penalty was saved and all hell broke loose. Nash was infuriated, and under the rules rightfully so. However, referee Johnny Ryan decided that O’Keeffe’s actions were acceptable.
The refereeing committee decided that the ball was struck as soon as the hurley touched the ball to lift it. Needless to say, this led to even more confusion.
What followed was the famous rule change. A rule change that would put an end to the Anthony Nash penalty.
Stephen O’Keeffe’s bravery had caused the GAA to take action. The new rule was brought in that the ball must be struck before reaching the 20 metre line.
The rule would later be changed again, the ‘one on one’ penalties being implemented. Nowadays however, the Anthony Nash penalty will be looked back upon as a time of mayhem.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena