Dublin de­buts for broth­ers

● Mor­ri­son sib­lings among five play­ers re­ceiv­ing their first cap

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT - BY BILL McAL­LIS­TER

Blair Mor­ri­son, af­ter five un­der-21 caps – a record for an out­field player – will line up along­side younger brother Craig as both make their Scot­land se­nior de­buts in to­mor­row’s shinty-hurl­ing in­ter­na­tional against Ire­land in Dublin.

Scot­land boss Garry Reid is de­lighted to have the Caber­feidh broth­ers among his five new caps as he bids to build on last year’s thrilling 14-12 vic­tory in In­ver­ness in what is the se­nior team’s first Emer­ald Isle visit since 2015.

“Blair’s a top-class de­fender with an ex­cep­tional un­der-21 caps tally, which might take a long time to match, so he’s got good ex­pe­ri­ence of fac­ing the Ir­ish,” said Reid.

“Craig has slammed in 35 goals in a re­mark­able per­sonal sea­son and, with his strength, he has a key role to play at full-for­ward.

“Their Caber­feidh club­mate, Kevin Bartlett, is an old hand at full in­ter­na­tion­als and his su­perb dead-ball strik­ing has earned Scot­land plenty of points from free-hits in the past.”

Reid sees Kyles Ath­letic’s Roddy Mac­don­ald, a Scot­land reg­u­lar with a de­cent scor­ing record, as also im­por­tant in un­set­tling the home de­fence.

Lo­vat flyer Fraser Heath, re­called this year af­ter two years out, is pin­pointed as a key mid­fielder by the man­ager.

“Fraser’s come back into the squad and he’s a very tal­ented lad,” said Reid.

“We seem strong up front but we need to cre­ate their op­por­tu­ni­ties and Fraser is the ideal player to link up ef­fec­tively with our for­wards.

“Ire­land have a habit of start­ing strongly, which we need to be ready for, and they’re a phys­i­cally strong team, so I’ve picked a squad with a fair amount of phys­i­cal­ity.”

New cham­pi­ons Kin­gussie pro­vide two new caps, cen­tral de­fender Robert Mabon and hit­man Savio Genini, with Kin­lochshiel mid­fielder Don­ald Nixon the re­main­ing new face.

Scot­land have won the last four se­nior in­ter­na­tion­als, all in In­ver­ness, but have lost their last five matches on Ir­ish soil. Their last away success was 22-21 at Croke Park, Dublin, in 2010.

Wil­lie Ma­her, joint Ire­land man­ager with Conor Phe­lan, said: “This is Conor and I’s fifth in­ter­na­tional, the first cou­ple at un­der-21 level, and it’s the first time we’ve played at home.

“We’ve not added any play­ers from Tier One clubs this time as we had 60 play­ers turn­ing up for the tri­als, a real sign of en­thu­si­asm for shin­ty­hurl­ing. Whit­tling them down to 20 was dif­fi­cult.

“Danny Cullen, from Done­gal, has played the last three years and he’ll be our cap­tain. The bulk of our lads are new caps but we’ve Damien Healy, of Meath, who played last year, and Ryan Mul­laney, of Laois, who played for the un­der-21s last year.”

The se­nior game, live on Ir­ish TV, be­gins at 2pm with the un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional start­ing at noon.

STEP­PING UP: Caber­feidh’s Blair Mor­ri­son, left, is in line to make his se­nior bow

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