Dooley hails Scottish ground skills as Ireland edged out
Hurling-shinty has always been seen as an oddity, the much less heralded of the hybrid sports the GAA engage in. Everybody had forgotten about it until the Irish squads were announced via press release during the week.
There was no press conference and no big marketing push. In the past, Ireland's squad has comprised lower-tier players mostly, with the likes of Sean Og O hAilpin, Eddie Brennan and Tommy Walsh providing a little pinch of stardust. However, that has not been enough for the competition to be deemed worthy of a high profile.
This year's panel is the strongest in many years, with Walsh captaining the side and joined by Kilkenny team-mate Jackie Tyrrell.
Cork's Patrick Horgan, Shane Dooley (Offaly), Antrim trio Neil McManus, Aaron Graffin and Barry McFall, Eoin Nolan from Carlow and Laois duo Willie Hyland and John Rowney all played for the Liam MacCarthy Cup this season.
It is clear that the players enjoy this, regardless of the absence of fanfare. Certainly the Scots dazzled with their array of first-time pulling, both aerially and at ground level.
It was a stark reminder of how the importance of getting the sliotar into your hand has taken over hurling to the detriment of ground skills, but the Irish showed their capabilities in this regard, when handling the ball was not allowed.
One couldn't help but marvel at the distances the Scots got on the ball from their ground strokes, and the fact that there were two points available for cutting over the bar from a dead ball was a significant advantage to them, especially given the edges that are on their sticks.
"A real good surface probably suited their game in that they play a lot of their game along the ground," said Ireland manager Joe Dooley.
Gary Innes had to leave the fray with blood pumping from a blow to the nose, but he was back to score a brilliant goal from 25 metres to give his side the upper hand towards the end of the first half.
Ireland lost Stephen Clynch with a suspected broken hand but Shane Dooley's second goal left Ireland trailing by just two at the break, 2-7 to 2-5.
Horgan contributed four points after the resumption, including a wonderful two-pointer, but Innes and Ronald Ross sent over from distance to keep Scotland's noses in front ahead of the second Test in Inverness in two weeks' time.
Scorers -- Scotland: F Macrae 1-3, R Ross 0-6, G Innes 1-2, J MacDonald 0-3, S Nicolson, N MacPhee 0-1 each. Ireland: S Dooley 2-4, P Horgan 0-5, N McManus 0-3, E Nolan, J Rowney, T Walsh 0-1 each.
Scotland -- S Mackintosh, N Campbell, J Barr, N MacDonald, D Rodger, I McDonald, C Bamber, N MacPhee, G Innes, F MacRae, J MacDonald, R MacDonald, G Irvine, R Ross. Interchange: S Campbell, A Corrigan, S Nicolson, P Gow, P MacKay
Ireland -- P Dermody (Kildare); A Graffin (Antrim), D McCormack (Westmeath), T Murnane (Kerry), J Tyrrell (Kilkenny), E Nolan (Carlow), T Walsh (Kilkenny), S Clynch (Meath), W Hyland (Laois), P Horgan (Cork), G Johnson (Down), N McManus (Antrim), A O'Brien, S Dooley. Interchange: B McFall (Antrim), B Murtagh (Westmeath), J Rowney (Laois), P McCormack (Armagh)
Ref -- T Carroll (Offaly)