A THRILLING second-half display by Scotland saw them come from behind to beat Ireland 14-12 in Saturday’s shinty/hurling international at Inverness’s Bught Park. This result makes it five home wins in a row for Garry Reid’s side and with Scotland Ladies recording a 10-2 victory over a Dublin County side earlier in the day the stock of the indigenous sport, at least in its home communities, has rarely

been higher.

For the home fans, however, it was a nerve-wracking afternoon, with the Scots trailing by eight points at half-time and finally getting their noses

in front with only four minutes left on the clock.

Afterwards, relieved Scotland manager Reid paid tribute to the

tenacity of his Irish opponents. He said: “They were an extremely tough team to beat. They had certainly done their homework on us and it was hard not to be concerned about being down 10-2 at the break. The wind definitely was a factor but I with players like Kevin Bartlett and Glen MacKintosh in our side we always had a chance.”

Things certainly didn’t look promising for Scotland when as early as the fifth minute Donegal’s Danny Cullen popped the ball over the bar for the first point of the afternoon. Other singles quickly followed from Damien Casey and Darragh Clinton while Scotland’s dead-ball specialist Bartlett was unable to respond from his first two attempts.

Tactically, the Irish had the edge, dropping deep to weave little knots of possession with the spare man always able to knock the ball over and build up a points advantage. This quickly rose to six with strikes from John Michael Nolan, Brian Byrne and Cullen before injury deprived Scotland of defender Rory Kennedy. Almost immediately his absence was exploited when a neat interchange with John Casey saw Meath’s Gavin McGowan score a three-point goal.

Then came a stroke of good fortune for Scotland when Kennedy’s replacement Arran MacPhee drew the foul which allowed Bartlett to knock the ball over for Scotland’s first two points – and though David McInerney notched up another single before the break, there were signs that all was not lost for the home side.

The second half saw Scotland rejuvenated, with Kyles’ Roddy MacDonald dropping deeper and Kinlochshiel’s Finlay MacRae cutting down the volume of Irish possession in the middle. Fouls on MacPhee and MacDonald allowed Bartlett to add four quick points. An overhead swipe by Nolan saw Scotland captain Grant Irvine leave the field with a head wound but to the astonishment of many, referee Keane awarded the foul to Ireland and keeper Enda Rowland ran up to add another point for his side. Oban’s Andrew MacCuish replied with quick single though a final Irish point of the afternoon from the caman of Jason Forde made it 7-12.

Then came the late game-changing goal. With the Irish defence under pressure a midfield ball from MacRae in saw MacKintosh knock the ball home to make it 10-12. Scotland pushed hard and Lovat’s Greg Matheson was on hand to bring the side’s level.

That score would have been enough for Scotland to retain the Marine Harvest trophy but they were gifted the game right at the death when a pointless foul on MacDonald by Rowland gifted Bartlett the opportunity to hand Scotland an outright victory, which he duly took.