Waterford selector Eoin Murphy pin-points Nash threat
By Jackie Cahill
Waterford selector Eoin Murphy has pin-pointed Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash as a huge threat to the Déise’s hopes of victory in next Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final.
A place in the September 3 decider against Galway is the prize on offer for the winners and Waterford are preparing for a revenge mission against Cork, having lost to the provincial winners in the Munster semi-final back in June.
Former corner back Murphy was officially added to the Waterford backroom staff in the aftermath of that game, and has provided a valuable sounding board for manager Derek McGrath.
Waterford are preparing for next Sunday’s tie still not knowing if they’ll have the services of defender Tadhg de Búrca, whose case goes before the independent Disputes Resolution Authority on Thursday evening, after he was sent off against Wexford in the All-Ireland quarter-final win.
While the outcome of that matter remains unknown, there is some certainty in how Waterford can go about counteracting Nash’s influence.
Murphy has described the Cork net-minder as the ‘conductor of an orchestra’ – and knows that Waterford must nullify his influence.
Murphy said: “A fantastic keeper, number one, and he’s a bit like a conductor of an orchestra.
“He’s kind of pulling the strings and fellas can work to his tune. He's hugely important to that team.
“His puck-outs then add the icing on the cake for Cork, and he sets up a lot of things for them.”
It may be a case of forewarned is forearmed for Waterford when it comes to Cork – but Murphy realises that Nash is capable of reacting to new kinds of pressure being applied.
He explained: “He seems to be able to change it up, he's able adapt and it would seem that this Cork team can adapt to what a team can bring.
“Clare tried it and we looked at it, and Tipperary were probably caught a little bit as well in the first game. But he (Nash) sets up a lot of things for him.”
Murphy pointed out that Waterford have a more than capable goalkeeper in their own right – with Stephen O’Keeffe in fine form.
And he said: “Stephen, to me, is probably under-rated.
“He's fantastic, a great keeper and one of the most skilful fellas we have, he's just a gifted player.
“And there's a good confidence in him in terms of his puck-outs and you need confidence as a keeper because we saw in the Clare game (against Cork), in five or six minutes, how things can go awry.
“That comes down to the player and having the confidence, and having the options there as well.
“But back to Nash, he's a super, super keeper and he dictates a lot for their team in terms of confidence. We're not going to overly focus on it, you can't.”
And while Waterford have achieved significant back-door victories against Kilkenny and Wexford, Murphy realises that Waterford need to go up another level again to compete with the in-form Rebels.
He said: “We still haven't properly performed to near our limit and I think we'll have to go again to compete against Cork, and that's the question mark for me.
“And that's the challenge that we're going to put to the team, to see if we can actually go again because Cork are definitely the form team in the country at the moment and that's on merit after going through Munster the way they did.
“They're hurling with great confidence and they're young and fast, and Croke Park is going to suit them.”
Murphy says that the criticism that’s come team manager Derek McGrath’s way – from inside his own county – has been over the top.
Opinion is divided in Waterford on how the team sets up, with McGrath clearly favouring the sweeper option.
Murphy reflected: “When you look back at Derek's first year (2014), people were probably calling for his head, he didn't have a great year.
“You could argue that after taking over, they were relegated and people were saying, 'Oh God, what's he trying to do and what's he doing' but I'd give the man huge credit for taking it.
“And he doesn't react now, in fairness, he's very diplomatic and he's a very, very genuine GAA person.
“He's very honest and we probably don't see it too much in today's game because there are agendas and hidden agendas, but he is very honest.
“Whether he's right or wrong, he's honest in his opinion and he doesn't hide it too much. I'd give him great credit for his persistence in getting Waterford to where they are.”