Scotland head coach Garry Reid is up for the fight as the announcement of a strong Ireland panel coupled with two significant rule changes mean his players will need to be at their best to retain the Mowi Quaich in the shinty/hurling international in Newry on Saturday 21 October.
Ireland usually include three top tier players in their squad but this year’s panel features six with places for Padraig Walsh, a two-time All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny, Cork pair Ger Millerick and Rob Downey, Tom Monaghan from Galway and Clare duo Peter Duggan and David Fitzgerald.
Ireland manager Damien Coleman from Galway has also put together a strong backroom team of Kieran Kingston (Cork), Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton (Antrim) and Michael Kavanagh (Kilkenny).
Coleman said: “We are delighted with our progress, and we have a strong panel with representation from 14 counties.
“It’s vital we maintain our tradition and this event affords hurlers from all tiers the opportunity to play together.”
Garry Reid, who is also manager of Caberfeidh, said: “I think the strength of the Irish squad reflects the power of their coaching team who all come from some significant counties.
“If we are honest though, a strong Irish squad is exactly what we’ve always wanted in this fixture, whether it is top tier players or the very best from their second tier.
“They have experience too as Enda Rowland has proved to be a top goalie in these games whilst skipper Neil McManus from Antrim is a veteran of the cross-code clashes.
“Don’t forget the rule changes either which will make it more difficult than ever before for us.
“The two points for a dead ball over the bar is now only one point and their goalie can now catch the ball.
“A regular tactic of ours would be to float the ball into the goalmouth to see how they deal with it, and we got a couple of goals from that last time around, but we can’t do that anymore as the keeper will just catch it and clear.
“I always believe the first half-hour is crucial in these games as Ireland settle into the contest.
“We are back to the venue when Ireland last won at home but there is no doubt our guys will be up for it.”
Scotland supporters unable to make the trip will still be able to watch the international as it will be shown live on the official TG4 YouTube channel.
Season heads into November
The incessant rain across the country wiped out Saturday’s entire Mowi Premiership programme meaning the shinty fixture list will now extend into November.
The fifth Badenoch derby of the season between Kingussie and Newtonmore at the Dell was the final fixture to fall.
Kingussie manager Iain Borthwick said: “Puddles started forming on the pitch on Saturday morning and it just got worse after that.”
The postponement gives the likes of Scotland call-up James Falconer another week to recover from injury and Borthwick added: “James coped well at training this week and would have played some part in the game, but he now has a bit longer to recover before we play next.”
Saturday November 4 now looks the likely rescheduled derby date.
The Argyll rain left Mossfield under water, ruling out Oban Camanachd’s meeting with Beauly.
Oban Camanachd manager Gareth Evans said: “We are down to one training session a week ahead of our final two games of the season.
“We have Kyles Athletic this Saturday and ourselves and Beauly will look at all options to see if we can get our fixture played sooner rather than stretching into November.”
Caberfeidh’s final match of the season against Kinlochshiel will extend into next month.
Cabers boss Reid said: “There’s no way the game could have gone ahead and with Shiel’s other fixtures, it looks like we won’t now complete out season until early November which is frustrating.”
‘Shiel boss Willie MacRae added: “It’s a shame as I’d planned to give youngster Kieran Martin a start at wing back while young Arron Jack would have started too.
“We are still training outside twice a week and we’ll keep that going until the end of the season.”
Glasgow Mid Argyll and Lovat must also wait to fulfil their fixture after Peterson Park was ruled unplayable.