Scotland too strong for Ireland in Hurling-Shinty International
2019 Senior Hurling-Shinty International
SCOTLAND 5-11 IRELAND 0-4
By John Harrington at the GAA Games Development Centre in Abbotstown
Ireland fell to a comprehensive defeat to a very well-drilled Scottish team in today’s Hurling Shinty International at the GAA Games Development Centre in Abbotstown.
After an encouraging first quarter for Ireland which could have been a lot better had they been more clinical in front of goal, it was all Scotland.
The purity of their ground-striking was a joy to watch at times, and they were far more comfortable with the demands of the compromise code than the Irish players were.
The miserable weather conditions were always going to make skilful play difficult for both teams, but perhaps more so for Ireland.
Shinty is a more direct, no-frills sort of sport than the game of modern hurling where possession has become king.
The objective of the shinty players is generally to strike the ball as quickly, directly, and as long as possible until they get into the scoring range.
Whereas because the Ireland players don’t have the same range with their ground-strokes they are obliged to play a more short-passing game.
That means more can go wrong, especially on a day when the rain is ceaseless, the ball is like a bar of soap, and the underfoot conditions slippy, though the sod at the Games Development Centre looked immaculate.
Scotland were moving the ball downfield with impressive ease at times thanks to their lengthy ground-strokes, whereas the Irish players at times struggled within the confines of the rules.
Ground hurling and first-time hurling is a pretty rare sight in the modern game now where getting the ball into your hand is usually the first objective for every player.
But there’s no handling of the ball allowed when we play the Scotland shinty players, and the weather conditions meant rising, soloing, and striking on the run was more tricky than it usually might be.
At times it must have felt almost literally like hurling with one hand held behind your back for the Irish players.
Short-passing sequences also invited trouble from tenacious Scottish tacklers, and tended to break down before serious ground could be gained.
Ireland did start brightly though, scoring the first two points of the match through Kildare’s Paul Divilly and Donegal’s Danny Cullen.
After that, though, the quality of Ireland’s shooting degenerated and numerous chances went abegging.
The more chances Ireland missed, the more the Scots grew visibly encouraged and settled into their own pattern of play.
Daniel Cameron scored their first point and then Kevin Bartlett pushed them ahead when he clipped over a free.
In the compromise code, a free converted when struck from the ground is worth two points.
Ireland’s Willie Dunphy tried to emulate Bartlett shortly afterwards when he attempted to ‘cut’ a free over the bar instead of rising and striking, but his risk gained no reward.
The first heavy blow of the match was landed on 31 minutes by Craig Morrison when the struck for Scotland’s first goal of the match.
Steven MacDonald was the creator when one of his trade-mark long-range frees feel short and the ball pinballed around the danger-area before Morrison struck.
Andrew McCuish scored a second Scottish goal shortly afterwards and all Ireland could summon in reply before the break was a Cillian Kiely ’65.
Trailing by 2-3 to 0-3 at the break, Ireland were still in the game, but they struggled to generate any real momentum in the second-half.
They conceded another goal 30 seconds after the restart when Craig Morrison finished brilliantly on the run, so an already difficult task was now all the more so.
As the second-half developed, Irish players were growing increasingly frustrated by the action around the middle third where Scotland’s willingness to pull hard and ask questions later was seeing them dominate any contestable ball.
The long, curved Scottish camans aren’t just handy for first-time pulling, they’re also a much handier tool for hooking the strikes of opposition players than a 34’’ hurley is.
On the few occasions that Ireland could get the ball deep into opposition territory, their forwards were generally facing away from goal and with a Scottish defender breathing down their necks.
It’s not easy to turn and generate a scoring opportunity in those situations, especially with the reach an outstretched camán has.
At the other end of the field, in contrast, Scotland were starting to really turn the screw.
MacDonald’s ability to land long-range frees worth two points apiece was a serious asset to the visitors, and a brace from him pushed them 13 points ahead.
A Ryan Mullaney free was all Ireland could manage in the second-half, and two more goals for Scotland by Roddy MacDonald and Kevin Bartlett put an impressive gloss on a very fine Scottish performance.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom from an Irish perspective though.
Earlier in the afternoon the Ireland U-21s played some sparkling hurling to defeat the Scotland U-21s by 7-11 to 4-2.
Scorers for Scotland: Craig Morrison 2-0, Finlay MacRae 0-6 (3 two-point frees), Kevin Bartlett 1-2 (one two-point free), Roddy MacDonald 1-0, Andrew MacIntosh 1-0, Savio Genini 0-2, Daniel Cameron 0-1
Scorers for Ireland: Danny Cullen 0-1, Paul Divilly 0-1, Ryan Mullaney 0-1 (f), Cillian Kiely 0-1 (’65)
SCOTLAND: 1: Stuart McDonald, 2: Rory Kennedy, 3: Roberty Mabon, 4: Blair Morrison, 5: Daniel Grieve, 6: Finlay MacRae, 7: Steven MacDonald, 8: Michael Russell, 9: Craig Morrison, 10: Kevin Bartlett, 11: Roddy MacDonald, 12: Daniel Cameron, 13: Greg Matheson, 14: Savio Genini, 15: Andrew MacIntosh, 16: Andrew King, 17: Fraser Heath, 18: Andrew McCuish, 19: Craig Mainland, 20: Donald Nixon
IRELAND: 1: Brian Tracey (Carlow), 2: Mikey Boyle (Kerry), 3: Joey Boyle (Westmeath), 4: Damian Casey (Tyrone), 5: Danny Cullen (Donegal), 6: Mark Delaney (Kildare), 7: Paul Divilly (Kildare), 8: Michael Doyle (Carlow), 9: Willie Dunphy (Laois), 10: Cillian Egan (Roscommon), 11: Alan Grant (Derry), 12: Damien Healy (Meath), 13: Cillian Kiely (Offaly), 14: Shane McGovern (Westmeath), 15: Ryan Mullaney (Laois), 16: Shane Nolan (Kerry), 17: Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch (Sligo), 18: Keith Raymond (Sligo), 19: Caolan Taggart (Down) 20: Sean Whelan (Carlow)