Dooley calls for support
The Shinty-Hurling international has never garnered the same publicity as its football-hybrid cousin, but it has grown on Ireland manager Joe Dooley, who takes charge for a second year, WRITES Donnchadh Boyle.
"Last year was my first experience as I was never lucky enough to play it," said the Offaly hurling boss. "It's a totally different game from hurling really and you need a good first touch. Their skill is awesome and what they can do with the ball from a long way out takes a little bit of getting used to."
Ireland won seven Tests in a row to 2004, before Scotland took over -- winning four on the bounce until last year's reversal.
This year will be the first two-legged affair as Ireland host Scotland at Croke Park today (4.45) -- as a curtain-raiser to the second International Rules Test -- before travelling to Inverness for the return fixture on November 13.
With players not allowed to catch the ball, the rules are more weighted towards the Scots. The ball used is shaped like a sliotar but is slightly lighter and two points are awarded for a strike from the ground that goes over the bar.
Scotland have proven to be more adept at landing points and traditionally Ireland have relied on their ability to run with the ball and create goalscoring opportunities for victory.
"In fairness to the Scottish lads, they take it very seriously because it's probably more akin to their game than it is to ours," said Dooley. "But it's a great spectacle and hopefully a good crowd turns up at Croke Park to see it. To put a '65' over the bar from the ground is no big deal for them. It's a brilliant skill. I tried doing it with their stick and I couldn't manage it. The advantage we have is that we can run with it."
In a bid to ensure the game remains competitive, Dooley and his back-room team, of Carlow manager Kevin Ryan and Jim McKiernan, were limited to just four players from Liam MacCarthy Cup sides.
Kilkenny duo Tommy Walsh and Jackie Tyrrell, Cork's Patrick Horgan and Offaly's Shane Dooley were chosen, along with a host of players from the 'weaker' counties.
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