Nash will have final say, insists Dominic McKinley
Former Loughiel, Antrim and Ulster player Dominic McKinley can recall the time when there was almost a stigma attached to being a hurling goalkeeper.
It was then generally the lot of the last man standing to take up duty between the posts, a role viewed as boring, tedious and utterly thankless.
But a lot has changed since those days. For a start, McKinley is currently in line to serve another stint as a member of the Antrim management team providing he gets the green light from the county board, while his job as a full-time coaching officer sees him immersed in helping to nurture new talent.
And the role of goalkeeper? Tomorrow, McKinley expects to be provided with further compelling evidence that it is now the most important position on the team when Anthony Nash, who he believes to be the best in the business, lines out with Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.
If the strategy surrounding kick-outs in football has become convoluted, indeed revolutionary to some extent, then the goalkeeper's re-starts in hurling have become "of paramount importance" according to McKinley.
Nash, whose heroics helped Cork win the Munster title and have helped to shorten the odds on their All-Ireland title chances, can prove a key figure against a Waterford side that will bring a ravenous appetite to the Headquarters table.
"I believe that Nash's puck-outs will have a crucial bearing on the outcome because he has the uncanny knack of being able to drill the ball exactly where he wants to put it. This is of paramount importance in his team's strategy," insisted McKinley.
"This is always to the benefit of his team and it's not a bit of wonder that Cork have been piling up scores. Nash is at the peak of his career just now, a player who wields an enormous influence within his side.
"I am looking forward to seeing the important part he plays. Not only is he the last line of the Cork defence but he is also their first line of attack given the benefits that accrue from his unerringly accurate puck-outs."
Nash's agility between the posts, his general reading of the game and his laser-like distribution will see him cast as something of a general overseeing Cork's battle plan but the Rebels are far from being a one-man show.
Pat Horgan, Alan Cadogan and Conor Lehane are quality forwards who can take scores at will, while Bill Cooper and Daragh Fitzgibbon form a solid midfield and Mark Ellis and Mark Coleman help prop up their defence.
Waterford, of course, are not short on fire-power as Pauric Mahoney, Maurice Shanahan, Jamie Barron and Stephen Bennett can help tot up scores but the team will undoubtedly miss the power and passion of the suspended Tadgh de Búrca, who had his appeal against a red card thrown out.
McKinley believes his absence could strip the Waterford team of some cohesion and dynamism.
"I think Tadgh will be a huge loss to them. This is a match in which they could really be doing with him," stated McKinley.
When the sides met in the semi-final of the Munster Championship, Cork won by 0-23 to 1-15. But Waterford could prove a different proposition this time.
They are laced with experience, play with controlled aggression and are not easily shaken out of their stride.
The force, though, appears to be with Cork on this occasion.