Scotland lose out in close match at Croke Park
‘If this had been a two-game series, we would have won it this year’ - Scotland manager Ronald Ross MBE
SCOTLAND fell to two late goals at Croke Park last Saturday to lose the shinty/ hurling international second test 16-14 against Ireland.
However, the overwhelming view in the aftermath was that the Scots have taken significant strides when it comes to matching their hurling counterparts.
With only five minutes left to play at the home of hurling, with around 20,000 fans inside the Dublin stadium, it looked as if Scotland were going to win a point.
Sadly, the final moments didn’t go the Scots’ way and Eoin Price and Shane Nolan were able to evade markers and launch single point strikes over the posts.
Understandably, the Scottish players were devastated at their late loss but, to a man, could not have given more over the two legs.
‘I thought the players were brilliant,’ said a disappointed but proud Scotland manager, Ronald Ross MBE.
‘If this had been a two-game series, we would have won it this year. Overall, I was really pleased with the improvement if you consider what happened in Ireland last year.’
Few could have disagreed with Ross’ assessment as the Internationals concluded with a win apiece for each nation.
In fact, had Grant Irvine converted a first half goal chance, the disciplined Scots may have left Dublin with more.
TJ Reid, Hurler of the Year, was matched every inch by Newtonmore defender Rory Kennedy and failed to stamp his authority on the proceedings.
Despite being unable to create a divot to raise the ball for ground hits, Scotland were once again well served by their hitters, Kevin Bartlett and Steven MacDonald.
Indeed, it was MacDonald’s strikes which created two of Scotland’s three point goals.
Eoin Reilly failed to deal with MacDonald’s looping hit in six minutes and Fraser Heath was able to bundle the rebound into the back of the net.
When Reilly parried another of MacDonald’s rockets, Bartlett was alert to pounce and drill the ball home in 31 minutes. Ireland, too, had their goals. Patrick Maher’s first half strike was the pick of them. He juggled the ball on his hurl before running deep into the Scottish box.
With Stuart MacKintosh as the last line, he smashed the ball on the volley and nothing would have kept it out.
For Ireland’s second first half goal, MacKintosh was poorly sighted by activity in front of him and Zane Keenan, who was outstanding, managed to squeeze the ball over him and into the net.
Ireland’s other first half scorers were Keenan (five points from hits), Eoin Price (1) and Neal McAuley (1).
Goals aside, Scotland’s first half strikes came from MacDonald (2 points from ground hits) and Bartlett (4 points from hits).
With the interval scoreline sanding at 13-12 to Ireland, the second half was less frenetic.
Bartlett (2) and Ireland’s Derek McNicholas (1) evened things before Ireland’s telling late goals.
Scotland, though, will take heart from 160 minutes in which they did little wrong.
‘For a while, we were being criticised but I think Ireland know we are up for this now. That can only be a good thing,’ said Steven MacDonald.
CELEBRATIONS: Lovat’s Kevin Bartlett celebrates scoring Scotland’s second goal against Ireland last
Saturday with Oban Camanachd’s Daniel Cameron.
RACE: Kyles Athletic’s Roddy MacDonald in a race for the ball with
Ireland’s Matthew Whelan at Croke Park last Saturday.