The Oban Times - - Sport -

FIN­LAY MacRae be­lieves Scot­land have to put their big­gest win in eight years be­hind them and fo­cus on rais­ing the stan­dards even higher this week­end against Ire­land’s Hurlers.

The 30-year- old Kin­lochshiel player has tasted both a win and a de­feat at Croke Park pre­vi­ously and would love to add an­other vic­tory to his list of ca­reer mo­men­tos.

How­ever, Ire­land have a tra­di­tion of bounc­ing back in th­ese fix­tures, par­tic­u­larly on home soil.

Jef­frey Lynskey has gal­vanised his Hurl­ing squad with six changes to the side that lost 24-14 in In­ver­ness last month.

And MacRae reck­ons the Scots have to con­sider this sec­ond test as a match against a dif­fer­ent op­po­nent and home in on the qual­i­ties that make Scot­land a propo­si­tion.

‘Ire­land al­ways seem to come back in the sec­ond game and I am not sure why, but I still think we can do it,’ said the dark blue stal­wart, who has been play­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive shinty for 13 years.

‘Ire­land have brought in some play­ers for this game and that will ob­vi­ously help them but, for me, it is about how we re­act.

‘ We were con­vinc­ing in the first game but we have to forget about that be­cause it is over and done with. They’ve beaten us for a few years now over there and we want to prove we can win both games and bring the pride back.’

Na­tional Coach Ron­ald Ross MBE had the play­ers to­gether for the fi­nal time at an all-weather park in Coat­bridge on Sun­day fol­low­ing a fit­ness ses­sion with coach, Neil Bow­man.

Ac­quaint The Scots fly out to the cav­ernous Croke Park in Dublin on Fri­day and will get a chance to ac­quaint them­selves with their im­pres­sive and for­mi­da­ble sur­round­ings.

MacRae starred in the one point de­feat of the Ir­ish at the same venue in 2010 and re­calls the feel­ing of win­ning at the home of hurl­ing in front of a size­able green and white crowd.

He would like noth­ing more than to savour a re­peat but knows, with play­ers such as Hurler of the Year, TJ Reid of Kilkenny, draft- ed in, the task will be sig­nif­i­cant.

‘Croke Park is the big­gest stage I have ever played on, and ever will, but it is also the same for the hurlers. When we won there in 2010, there were so many peo­ple there, the match was so tight and we were ec­static at get­ting the win.

‘Ire­land will not want to lose at Croke Park, at home and in front of the fam­ily, so we need to make sure we are ready for it.’

Ross has been in ne­go­ti­a­tion with the Ir­ish re­gard­ing rules for the sec­ond test, with play­ers not al­lowed to cre­ate a raised turf with their boot for ground hits.

A vast sum of money has been in­vested by the GAA in the Croke Park sur­face so of­fi­cials have agreed to al­low the Scots to use golf tees in­stead of their heels to cre­ate a plat­form for hit­ting.

The match throws in at 4.35pm and will act as the cur­tain raiser ahead of the In­ter­na­tional Rules clash be­tween Ire­land and Aus­tralia, which is likely to at­tract a ca­pac­ity 80,000 crowd.

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