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Scotland's goalscorer in shinty-hurling international challenge match Kevin Bartlett believes future remains bright for Scots despite 2023 defeat to Ireland

By Alasdair Fraser

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Kevin Bartlett is confident the future is bright for Scotland’s shinty-hurlers despite the bitter taste of defeat as the Ireland international fixture returned.

The Scots went down 22-14 last weekend at Newry’s Páirc Esler to an Irish side packed with elite level hurling talent.

It marked the first meeting in four years since the pandemic began and ended a run of dominance for the shinty contingent since the fixture was last held in the border town back in 2014.

Scotland's Robert Mabon (left) and John Gillies keep the ball from Niall Arthur (Ireland) at Pairc Esler, Newry. Picture: Neil Paterson
Scotland's Robert Mabon (left) and John Gillies keep the ball from Niall Arthur (Ireland) at Pairc Esler, Newry. Picture: Neil Paterson

Caberfeidh’s Bartlett (34), an outstanding and prolific contributor to Scotland’s past success, took personal blame for missing scoring opportunities and admitted Irish quality was too great on the day.

But he was far downbeat about future prospects after Scotland blooded 11 new caps.

“It was a very good weekend despite the disappointment,” the Castle Stuart golf greenkeeper said.

“In the second half, at one stage, we were back to within one point of them, but they were pretty clinical this year over the bar. Any time we gave them any space it was a point. They had a lot more top tier players than in past years and you could see the difference.

“From what I believe, they had quite a few squad training sessions for it as well, which we weren’t able to do. We only managed one this time. They were a lot more organised for it this year, I would say.”

Bartlett refused to make a big deal out of rule changes that also swung prospects in the Irish team’s favour, with only one point, rather than two, awarded for hits over the bar off the ground – the only scoring format that aided the shinty players who were much more adept at it.

“It is just another aspect where we have to show we can up our game and compete with them,” Bartlett said. “I missed quite a few chances myself. For a couple close in, I was maybe too casual.

“Certainly, if selected, I’m keen to be back. We had 11 new caps, which is encouraging. Usually we have roughly the same team with three or four new faces.

“They all did well and all of them had played under-21s, but with 11 it takes a while for us established players to adjust. There are certainly plenty of talented lads about, including some who weren’t selected, so the future is bright.

“Once the older ones step aside, there is plenty there to come in and do a job.”

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