Monday, October 10, 2005

A Scotttish International Side which actually wins

Shinty /Hurling International.
Scotland V Ireland
Bught Park, Inverness

Scotland 20 Ireland 17
Scotland finally ended a run of poor International results against Ireland’s hurlers with a deserved victory yesterday but they had manager Duncan Kelly praying for the final whistle as slack defensive work allowed Ireland two late goals which took them to within a point of the Scots lead . In the end Gary Innes secured victory with a last minute free hit from the halfway line : it counted two points and it was enough to see Scotland home and dry in this fixture for the first time since 1999.
If you want to defend against hurlers you must defend often and you must defend even while you attack. That is the lesson the Scots have learned from bitter experience in their annual clashes with the cream of the GAA and yesterday it was clear that the coaching instilled in the squad by Kelly and his staff has helped the national team turn the corner.
It didn’t look that way at the start however. Early Irish pressure threatened to swamp the Scots and it was no surprise when the visitors quickly racked up a 5 point lead . The first came courtesy of a two point dead ball hit from man of the match Enda Loughlin in 15 minutes . This was quickly followed by another dead ball strike -this time from Pat Coady. He drove the ball fiercely through a packed Scottish defence to pick up a three point goal in 17 minutes.
At this stage of the game Scotland struggled to compete with their quicker sharper visitors and it was noticeable that when they did get the ball up front Ronald Ross, returning to the international scene after an absence of four years found himself accompanied by two Irish markers.
But with the ball on the ground the Scots can play a bit and when Victor Smith made himself space on the left he slipped it forward to James Clark. Clark, a two goal hero for Fort William in the recent Camanachd cup final blasted his shot on target where it was well stopped by keeper Thomas Duffy. The loose ball broke to Gary Innes and he hammered it home to open Scotland’s tally with a three point goal. Innes added another point from open play minutes later. Norman Campbell and then Innes himself further added to Scotland’ s tally before Ronald Ross helped himself to his customary score. A dead ball hit from Campbell was flicked on overhead by Innes. Duffy again saved but Ross always quick to follow up put the rebound home.
The Scots went further ahead just on halftime with what was the goal of the match and once again Ross was at the heart of the move. Picking up a neat pass from Smith he played the ball on to the keeper and this time it was Clark who was on hand to pick up the pieces driving the ball the ball past Duffy for Scotland third goal of the half.
If a 13-5 lead looked secure for Scotland in the half time dressing room the Irish had other ideas . Whatever manager Seamus Qualter said to his players in the interval they came out for the second period fired up and quick scores from Sean MacBride Pat Coady and the excellent Loughlin rapidly reduced Scotland’s winning margin to a mere three points. The pressure on the players began to tell and challenges grew in ferocity-always inevitable in a compromise code where the whole secret of success lies in tight man to man marking. Tempers flared after a clash between Innes and Irelands Karl McKeegan but referee John Macrae was quickly on hand to calm matters down.
Victor Smith restored Scotland differential with a neat goal when he found a drive from Ross dropping on to his caman in 55 minutes and Innes picked up a further two points almost immediately.
With an seven point lead and two minutes on the clock you should be safe. Not Scotland . Late goals by John Dooley and Enda Loughlin took the gloss of the victory restored only slightly by Innes’s late strike.
Good game - a good advert for the compromise code- and of course it wouldn’t be a true Scottish side if it didn’t make the spectators sweat a bit.
For the record Scotland’s ladies lost 13-0 while the under-21s made it a double celebration day by beating Ireland 14-8.

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