Spotlight on shinty Test
THIS YEAR’S home Test in the hurling-shinty international series between Ireland and Scotland will be the centrepiece of a cultural weekend in Ennis featuring music and workshops as well as senior, under-21 and camogie matches.
Launched by GAA president Liam O’Neill in Croke Park yesterday, the series will also feature a pitch opening by President Michael D Higgins and takes place over the bank holiday weekend at the end of the month.
The first Tests in Scotland will be held in Inverness next weekend. Both senior matches will be televised live by TG4.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Ireland manager John Meyler, who formerly was in charge of Wexford and Kerry seniors and who will be assisted by Kilkenny’s Michael Walsh. “This is our fourth year; we’ve three years with the 21s and this is our first with the seniors and we’re really looking forward to it. We emphasised to the players . . . about the level of commitment we expect when they represent their country. Their behaviour and attitude has to be 100 per cent.”
The panel shows a greater number of big names than usual and O’Neill explained that maintaining a balance in the series has always been a tricky task. “We had to strike the balance. When we were sending over our best players we were winning every year. The reason for the Scots to stay involved wasn’t as big so this is our attempt to keep it even. We have a fair balance and when it’s ground hurling, rise and strike that levels it anyway and means the Scots have a chance. They’ve been fairly close most times with only a point or two each time in it and that keeps the interest. This time we’ve probably more stronger players than usual. It depends on who’s available and in county finals.
“We don’t want to (risk) the series by hammering them every time and they respect that. Yet we want to give the matches due respect because they are internationals with the pick of their players so we want to give some of our best players too. We have to have an outlet. I suppose the All Stars is the outlet for MacCarthy Cups and this is effectively an All Stars for the other three championships (Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cups). It’s important if we’re serious about promoting those competitions and giving all hurlers a pathway to elite (participation).”