Dublin debuts for brothers
● Morrison siblings among five players receiving their first cap
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