Shinty U-21 glory as Ryan represents Ireland against Scotland

Daniel Phelan

DCU student Brian Ryan was part of the Irish team that came out on top in the annual Under 21 Hurling Shinty International clash with Scotland.

Last year’s series took place in Inverness so the Irish team held the home advantage this year with the games taking place in the National Games Development Centre in Abbottstown, Saturday, November 2.

The Limerick and South Liberties clubman got a call from manager Willie Cleary just over a month ago asking did he want to represent his country in the series. For Ryan, there was only one answer.

These international matches between Hurling and Shinty teams have been taken place since 1896. Historically, Scotland has been the more victorious team.

Shinty was derived from the same roots as hurling with there being very little dissimilarity differentiating the two sports. The gameplay is almost identical with exception of the ball never being picked up and only goals can be scored in shinty.

In the international series, to make the contest a just one, the Irish players are not permitted to pick up the ball or have the ball in hand, therefore, catching is against the rules and punished by awarding the opposition a free. Ryan found this to be rather challenging, “Not being able to catch the ball made it really difficult. Every time you got it [the ball] you kind of had to find an outlet and get rid of it straight away because if you hold onto it too long you run the risk of getting a belt”, he said.

As a result of the rule, the tempo of the game was quite intermittent in comparison with that of a hurling match, with the gameplay being slowed down as rucks for the ball would form. Approaching a new game and new rules was certainly challenging, Ryan credits his managers for gaining insight and knowing what to expect from the game.

“They gave us good tips, we were warned how physical it would be heading into the match so we weren’t surprised, and it was physical,” Ryan said.

That physicality showed and it was to the detriment of some of the players, “it was quite dirty and there were a lot of injuries”, Ryan added.

The Limerick man was joined on the team by fellow DCU teammates James Dolan from Kildare and Donal Burke from Dublin. Representing his country was a proud moment for the Accounting & Finance student and something he always wanted to achieve, “It was very good obviously and to do it in my last year of eligibility, playing with other lads
from around the country, you never really get to do that,” Ryan told The College View.

The Scots led 4-1 to 1-9 at half time, however, once proceeding got back underway Ireland dominated scoring four goals in the opening ten minutes of the second half.

The Irish defence looked indomitable after the break, allowing the visitors to register only a solitary point as Ireland went onto win 7-11 to 4-2. Unfortunately, the U-21’s did not set the tone for the Ireland senior team who ended up losing out to Scotland by a score of 5-11 to 0-04.

Daniel Phelan

Image Credit: Brian Ryan