Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Neil McManus warns Ireland after Shinty showdown

Hurling/Shinty Compromise Rules Series First Test

Close attention: Ireland's Darragh O'Connell holds off Fraser MacKintosh at Croke Park

Ireland 4-12 Scotland 2-12: Captain Neil McManus has warned his Ireland team-mates that shinty is a 'religion' in Scotland.

The Antrim ace will lead Ireland out at Bught Park, Inverness on Saturday insisting that five hurling/shinty international titles in a row isn't guaranteed despite a six-point advantage.

A glut of first-half goals in last Saturday evening's first test at Croke Park left Ireland eight clear at half-time.

One of those goals came from McManus, who scooped home cleverly from close range in the 26th minute.

But they couldn't use the big lead as a springboard to push on further and found themselves outscored by two in the second-half. It means that the series remains very much alive and that Ireland need a big display on foreign soil to retain their title.

"Over in Scotland, they're never easy to beat," said McManus, who is looking forward to his 10th test. "They pride themselves on the way that they represent their country.

"They love playing for their country. They're a very patriotic bunch and we understand the challenge that lies ahead of us in Bught Park. There'll be a big crowd because shinty is a religion in the highlands. Whenever the boys come out and sing the Flower of Scotland, the Scottish lads get really up for it I can tell you."

McManus revealed his own satisfaction from leading Ireland out in the hybrid game.

"It's a great honour for myself and for my club," he continued. "I've had messages of support from all over the country all week. And because I'm playing with another club man, Aaron Graffin, it's been a fantastic occasion for myself and for our club. But we know it's still only half-time."

Ireland will be bolstered by the availability of Kilkenny duo Jackie Tyrrell and Richie Hogan for Thursday's trip to Scotland.

Hogan had to pull out of the first test because of a dead leg while hugely decorated defender Tyrrell will be drafted in for Shane O'Neill, who can't travel.

Ireland: B Rochford (Kerry); S O'Neill (Cork), B Maher (Tipperary) (0-1, 1f), A Graffin (Antrim); D English (Carlow), E Price (Westmeath) (0-2), C Woods (Down); D O'Connell (Kerry) (0-1), C Healy (Laois) (1-0); D McNicholas (Westmeath), P Maher (Tipperary) (0-1), N McManus (Antrim) (1-3, 3f); G Johnson (Down) (0-1), G Mulcahy (Limerick) (1-1).

Interchange: J Kavanagh (Carlow) (1-1), P Divilly (Kildare), D Cullen (Donegal) (0-1), K McKiernan (Armagh), E Reilly (Laois).

Scotland: Stuart MacDonald; D Irvine, J Barr; D Cameron, Steven MacDonald (0-1), J Hutchison; S Nicholson (0-2, 1f), C Cormack; K Bartlett (0-4, 2f), F Macrae (1-2), L MacDonald (1-1); G MacKintosh (0-1), N Campbell, F MacKintosh.

Interchange: J Macrae (0-1), C Cruden, K Macrae.

Referee: E Hassan (Derry).

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