Scotland head coach Garry Reid has named 11 new caps in his 20-man squad for the Mowi shinty / hurling international against Ireland next month.
There are first senior call-ups for John Gillies, Danny Kelly, Duncan Matheson, Daniel Sloss, Daniel MacCuish, Blair McFarlane, Craig Ritchie, Ruaridh Anderson, Scott Macdonald, James Falconer and Iain Robinson for the match at Pairc Esler, Newry on Saturday, October 21.
Scotland won 26-4 win at Abbotstown when the countries last meet in 2019 and Reid has retained just seven players from that squad.
He said: “In many ways it is a reset for the international this year and I’ve tried to find a balance between old and new to showcase the players who have done best for their clubs this season.
“We don’t have the same preparation time as previous years, I haven’t had that luxury, so I’ve selected the squad after consultation with the various managers, taking their advice.
“I’ve tried to get a flavour from a number of clubs with the final squad spread across eight teams.
“It’s good to have the international back and these are starting steps as we look to establish the fixture as a regular event once more.
“We had an initial list of 55 players and the final squad consists of top-flight players only as they are best prepared as the pace in the Mowi Premiership is unbelievable.
“There are no more than three players from any one club, but I could easily have included five players from some clubs.
“We have an abundance of quality in certain positions like half back, so the likes of Conor Cormack and Alexander Michie are unlucky to miss out.”
Players not included in the squad but on a reserve list should there be any injuries are William MacKinnon (Skye Camanachd), Calum Morrison (Beauly), Calum McLay (Glasgow Mid Argyll) and Cameron Sutherland (Oban Camanachd).
Macdonald wants a win on his return to Newry
Kyles Athletic’s Roddy Macdonald is a veteran of these occasions with 13 caps, and he said: “I’m really pleased the international is back.
“It’s great to mix with players from other clubs and it’s a fantastic experience for young shinty players.
“I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s a different type of game to shinty; it’s physical and you get away with a wee bit more which is nice.
“It is a different location this year, but I have played in Newry before, in 2014, but we didn’t win back then so hopefully we can do so this time.”
Macdonald is joined in the squad by teammates Scott Macdonald and Andrew King, and he added, “I’m really pleased for Scott. He’s been outstanding for us this season and thoroughly deserves his call-up.
“He works so hard and has added goals to his game whilst what do you say about Andrew King, he just gets better every year.”
New faces thrilled to be selected
Scott Macdonald wins his first cap and after scoring twice against Skye, he said: “I was surprised but delighted to get the call-up.
“I’ve been scoring more goals this season which might have helped me and I’m really looking forward to the game.”
John Gillies from Skye is another senior debutant and he added: “It’s an honour to be selected. I was involved for a few years at under-21 level before covid came along.
“I wasn’t expecting to be involved this year, but it means an already good season finishes on a high.”
Newtonmore’s Rory Kennedy would have been selected but is unavailable for the trip.
There are also set to be tweaks to the rules this year with the removal of two-points for dead-balls struck over the bar, something the Scots have profited from in recent internationals.
This is something Reid refers to as, “getting the balance right.”
Damien Coleman manages Ireland for this first time this year and his players are training well for the game.
Ireland will return to including three top tier players in their squad which didn’t happen in 2019 because of other commitments.
Stuart MacDonald (Lovat), John Gillies (Skye Camanachd), Robert Mabon (Kingussie), Danny Kelly (Lovat), Andrew King (Kyles Athletic), Duncan Matheson (Kinlochshiel), Blair Morrison (Caberfeidh), Daniel Sloss (Oban Camanachd), Finlay MacRae (Kinlochshiel), Steven Macdonald (Newtonmore), Blair McFarlane (Oban Camanachd), Daniel MacCuish (Oban Camanachd), Craig Ritchie (Caberfeidh), Kevin Bartlett (Caberfeidh), Ruaridh Anderson (Kingussie), Roddy Macdonald (Kyles Athletic), Craig Morrison (Caberfeidh), Scott Macdonald (Kyles Athletic), James Falconer (Kingussie), Iain Robinson (Newtonmore)