The sports might have compromised but that’s as far as it went as far giving an inch to a Celtic cousin.
Two teams representing shinty clubs from the Highlands and Islands squared up to hurling counterparts, members of Micheal Breathnach’s hurling team and the women’s Cumann Camógaíochta Chois Fharraige, on the last Sunday in July on Micheal Breathnach’s grounds.
It was Seumas against Séamas, Calum against Colm or, in the first match, Ciorstaidh NicLeoid from Oilithigh Dhún Éideann club taking on Siobhán Ní Mhaoileáin. Both sticks are known as ‘camáns’ and the Scottish swing is reminiscent of a very wide trajectory golfing drive which the Irish did well to avoid.
Iomain Cholmcille, as this ‘clash of the Ish’ is now known, has been up and running since 2007, when Inverin club Micheal Breathnachs took to the field in Oban. There was a special rapport between Gaelic and Gaedhlig speaking communities which ran in tandem with their national counterparts meeting from time to time. Connemara and the Islands and Highlands are keen to grow that bond with reciprocal trips.
The Irish have the upper hand overall in this particular hybrid game and both local sides won their matches relatively easy. Bar the goalkeepers, players are not allowed handle the sliotar but the hurlers can carry the ball on their ‘bos’ which isn’t feasible with the narrower Scottish stick. This puts the Irish players at an advantage – but outlawing soloing with the sliotar would make it a complete ground game, where the advantage would see a definite swing to the Scots.
Although the games were fiercely contested, Scottish manager Eoghan Stiubhart wasn’t too disappointed.
It’s home advantage in the next encounter with maybe a hot fire planned for the Irish teams’ goalmouths.