Strong finish keep Ireland’s series hopes alive

JOE DOOLEY believes Ireland will carry vital momentum into the hurling/shinty series decider following Saturday's storming first Test at Croke Park.

Dooley's team, which is seeking to retain the title, trailed by six points midway through the second-half and looked in trouble, before a strong finish rescued pride and what might have been an incredible victory.

Ireland can still be satisfied though, as they took on more of the compromise than their shinty counterparts; they weren't permitted to take the ball in hand, a lighter shinty style ball was used and the visitors received double scores for free conversions.

Those double score frees were crucial as Scotland, who can hit the ball longer, higher and farther than hurlers due to their lofted sticks, received 0-12 in total from four converted frees and two 65s.

"The lads kept battling away right until the finish," Dooley said. "I thought we finished strongly. If it had gone on for another few minutes we would have won it."

Whatever about the rules, Ireland had only themselves to blame for 20 wides. The misses undermined a great start that saw Ireland move 1-2 to 0-0 ahead, following the first of two Shane Dooley goals, but they eventually trailed 2-7 to 2-5 at half-time.

Three placed ball conversions kept Scotland in the ascendancy after the restart, until a final quarter burst pulled Ireland back into the contest.

Ireland were permitted four McCarthy Cup players - though they fielded eight if you include the three Antrim players and Laois' John Rowney - but it was the lesser lights that stole the show.

Carlow's Eoin Nolan nailed two points in the run in, while Neil McManus’ score of 0-4 in the final ten minutes was crucial in keeping the series alive.

Scorers for Scotland: G. Innes (1-4; 0-2f 0-2 65), F. MacRae (1-3; 0-2 65), R. Ross (0-4; 0-4f), J. MacDonald (0-3; 0-2f), N. MacPhee and S. Nicolson each (0-1).Scorers for Ireland: S. Dooley (2-3; 0-1 65), N. McManus (0-5; 0-3f), P. Horgan (0-3), E. Nolan (0-2), B. McFall and J. Rowney each (0-1).

SCOTLAND: S. Mackintosh; N. Campbell, G. Irvine, J. Barr; N. MacDonald, A. Corrigan, C. Bamber; N. MacPhee, G. Innes; R. MacDonald, R. Ross, D. Rodger; I. McDonald, J. MacDonald.

Inter-change players used: S. Campbell, F. MacRae, S. Nicolson, P. Gow, P. MacKay.

IRELAND: P. Dermody; A. Graffin, D. McCormack, T. Murnane; J. Tyrrell, E. Nolan, T. Walsh; S. Clynch, W. Hyland; P. Horgan, G. Johnson, N. McManus; A. O'Brien, S. Dooley.Inter-change players used: B. McFall, B. Murtagh, J. Rowney, P. McCormack.

Referee: T. Carroll (Offaly).

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