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Scotland defeat Ireland in Hurling-Shinty Senior International

 Damien Healy of Ireland in action against Thomas Borthwick.

Damien Healy of Ireland in action against Thomas Borthwick.

Hurling-Shinty Senior International


By John Harrington at Bught Park

Ireland fell to a frustrating defeat to Scotland in today’s Hurling-Shinty International at Bught Park, Inverness.

They struggled to hurl with much fluency for most of the game, which was mainly due to determined defending by a well organised Scottish outfit.

Ireland were also guilty of hitting many poor wides though, both from placed balls and open play. A contentiously disallowed goal at the start of the second-half did them no favours either.

Clare’s David Reidy did brilliantly to double an over-head strike to the back of the net, but it was ruled out for offside, the shinty equivalent of a square-ball.

Had it stood, it would have reduced the deficit to four points and given Ireland some much needed momentum and self-belief at the start of the second-half.

Overall though, they could have few complaints about the final result because they struggled to make much headway against a group of Scottish players that hustled and harried for every single ball.

The home team defended in numbers to prevent Ireland creating goal-chances, and then won enough converted frees and side-lines when they counter-attacked to build a winning score.

Scotland only hit a single point from open play, but sharpshooter Kevin Bartlett was very accurate with his ground-strokes from frees and side-lines.

And with two-points awarded for each one converted, the few errors the Irish defence did make were costly ones.

Ireland joint-manager Jeff Lynskey had said before the game that the key for Ireland was to stay close with Scotland in the early running, because they traditionally improve the longer the game goes on as they become more familiar with the requirements of the compromise code.

The Irish players did manage to do prevent Scotland building the sort of early lead they did last year, but didn’t steadily build momentum themselves in the manner Lynskey had hoped they would.

Scotland opened the scoring in the very first minute thanks to a two-pointer from Kevin Bartlett, but thereafter scoring opportunities for either team were few and far between.

Both defences were dominant, with Irish players like Clare’s Cian Dillon, Kerry’s Patrick Kelly, and Meath’s James Toher and Mickey Burke impressing with their willingness to play hard and tight.

At the other end of the field the Scottish backs were just as effective as Steven MacDonald and Finlay MacRae kept close tabs on Offaly’s Shane Dooley and Kerry’s Shane Nolan.

It looked like Ireland were warming to the task when they drew level by the 16th minute thanks to two points from the increasingly influential Cha Dwyer.

The Laois man first slung in a sideline that was tipped over for a point, and then landed a sweet score from 35 yards out when he controlled and struck the ball fluidly under pressure.

Ireland never kicked on from there, though, and Scotland surged into a 0-10 to 0-3 half-time lead thanks to seven more points from Bartlett and one from Roddy MacDonald, their only score from play.

Ireland showed more urgency at the start of the second-half, but were left mystified when Reidy’s strike to the back of the net wasn’t allowed.

The off-side rule in the compromise code means an attacking player can’t be in the semi-circle shaped penalty-area before the ball is played in, but it looked like Reidy struck the ball from outside it.

Ireland would have one more chance in the game of scoring the goal they so badly needed, but Scotland’s impressive goalkeeper Stuart MacDonald did well to save a powerfully struck Cha Dwyer shot.

Apart from that moment, Ireland never really opened up the Scotland defence and all they had to show for their efforts in the second-half were two points from Kerry’s Mickey Boyle.

They might have lost by more too were it not for an impressive display from goalkeeper and captain, Eoin Reilly.

He dealt confidently with everything that came his way, and drew a warm round of applause from the Scottish fans at one stage when he set off on an eye-catching solo-run that took him all the way into the opposition’s half.

Scotland didn’t create many themselves in the second-half either as both defences continued to dominate – another Kevin Bartlett two-pointer was all they added to their half-time score – but they still closed out the game comfortably enough.

Scorers for Scotland: Kevin Bartlett 0-13 (11f, 2 sideline), Roddy MacDonald 0-1

**Scorers for Ireland: **Cha O’Dwyer 0-2, Micky Boyle 0-2, Shane Dooley 0-1

Scotland: Stuart MacDonald, Steven MacDonald, Finlay MacRae, Andy MacKintosh, Rory Kennedy, Lee Bain, John Barr, Thomas Borthwick, Keith MacRae, Roddy MacDonald, Kevin Bartlett, Glen Mackintosh, Liam MacDonald, Fraser Heath, Daniel Cameron, Lorne Dickie, John MacRae, Conor Cormack, Mark MacDonald, Greg Matheson.

Ireland: Eoin Reilly, Mickey Boyle, Michael Breen, Mickey Burke, Danny  Cullen, Cian Dillon, Paul Divilly, Shane Dooley, Cha Dwyer, Damien Healy, Gerry Keegan, Patrick Kelly, Bryan Murphy, Karl Murray, Shane Nolan, David Reidy, James Toher.

Ref: Innes Wood (Scotland)