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

The Oban Times - - Sport -


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.

Re­port: Ken­neth Stephen. Pho­tos: Sportsfile

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.

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