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Anthony Nash: Cork legend Patrick Horgan taking Canning record will be ‘unbelievable achievement’

It’s a formality that Patrick Horgan will become the Championship’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday, something which former teammate Anthony Nash hails as an “unbelievable achievement”.

Horgan goes into Cork’s clash with Waterford with 22-501 to his name across 67 games since making his Championship debut back in 2008, a point behind Joe Canning (27-487), who overtook Henry Shefflin’s all-time record in his final game before retiring last summer, also against Waterford.

With a scoring average north of eight points per game, barring injury, it’s inconceivable that the ace-freetaker won’t get the couple of points he needs to take the record outright at Walsh Park.

He’d arguably have it already if it wasn’t for the fact that Nash was Cork’s first choice penalty-taker for a period.

“I watched your man from Sydney Swans get his thousandth goal,” said Nash of Lance Franklin hitting the landmark in the AFL in March, prompting a pitch invasion.

“I’m not expecting Walsh Park to flood in on top of Hoggy or anything like that but I hope –please God, he’s injury-free and on the field – that a lot will be made of it because it’s an unbelievable achievement.”

The two-time All Star goalkeeper recalled the first time that he came up across the 34-year-old.

“Duhallow under-21s were playing the Glen in Éire Óg and it was my age so he was only 16. Twenty minutes into the game, a Glen forward got injured and it was the worst thing that could have happened to us because this 16- year-old wonderkid jogged on to the field, a fella I had only heard stories about.

“First ball in, he spun it over the corner-back’s head – I’ve never seen anything like it again – and I was almost willing the shot in, he buried it past me in the bottom corner!

“Since then, I’ve followed his career and I was saying, ‘This guy is going to be a superstar.’ I’m delighted for him and his family that this is going to happen.

“Yes, it’s not the be-all and the end-all, it’s an individual accolade but it’s still fantastic to do what he’s going to do. I hope that everyone out there makes a deal of it because it’s a huge thing for a fella to do.”

Former Cork hurler Anthony Nash in attendance at the EirGrid Timing Sponsorship Launch

In the greater scheme of things, Cork badly need a victory if they are to stay in the Championship and Nash favors a rejig, including placing Horgan at centre-forward, if they are to find the spark that eluded them in their defeats to Limerick and Clare.

“They have to do something different, like, create a bit of excitement in that dressing room again.

“With Glen Rovers, he pulls the strings from centre-forward. Let off this whole GPS, basing it on movement.

“At the end of the day, when you have hands like his, you need to get him on the ball. I think centre-forward would free him up a bit and he’d enjoy it more himself because he’s not getting much ball inside with this game-plan.

“The last day against Clare, again I thought he was very good. I have looked dangerous. Just try it, give it a go.”

Nash says that there are strains of 2016 and “the worst winter of my hurling career” about how Cork’s season is shaping up.

That year, Cork were soundly beaten by Tipperary in Munster before crashing out to Wexford in the qualifiers, their first defeat to them in Championship hurling in 60 years.

Having lost last year’s All-Ireland final as well as their opening two games this year, another reverse on Sunday would bring an unwanted record of four consecutive Championship defeats for the first time in their history.

“It was a tough year and I was always living in hope that we’ll perform, we’ll perform, we’ll perform,” Nash reflected on the 2016 season. “It just never got going for us.

“Eventually, we petered out against Wexford above in Thurles and to be honest it was the worst winter of my hurling career.

“It’s a funny story and a bad story. A buddy of mine was opening a bike store in Ballincollig and he asked me to come out and help him open it. So myself and Alan Cadogan went out to open it.

“He was expecting 40 or 50 people to turn up – four people turned up to it, nobody wanted to see us. One fella turned up just to give us a rollicking, like. I have absolutely abused us. He was like, ‘What are ye doing with Cork hurling? You’re a disgrace.’ And all this stuff.

“I was standing up going, ‘Aw, sweet Jesus.’ All ye want to do is go to next season, like.

“We had Donncha O’Callaghan who came in and spoke to us back in the noughties – I don’t know what year it was. Munster had just lost and he said to us, ‘You’re lucky you’re starting your season. I’d love to start my season again.’

“They had just lost to someone and that’s how I felt in the winter of 2016. From the outside, I can only presume – like, I said I don’t ask my friends of my friends inside there – that it just feels that way at the moment

“Look, the eventualities are it’s very difficult to see them coming out of Munster but if they do get a win on Sunday and hopefully results go their way, the conversation we’re having in a month’s time could be a lot different.

“But it’s a tough task and it’s a frustrating place to be at times.”

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