BY KEITH MACKENZIE
The prospect of taking the shinty-hurling series outwith Ireland or Scotland is a “nice idea” but one which has not yet faced serious scrutiny from shinty’s governing body, the sport’s chief operating officer has said.
In the wake of this year’s series — won for the fifth year in a row by the Irish — speculation has suggested that a one-off shinty-hurling match could be held in Argentina, where there is a tradition of Gaelic sport among the ex-pat Irish population.
Previously, it had been proposed that shinty players be invited to join the Gaelic Athletic Association’s centenary celebrations in New York in 2014, but with that idea seemingly shelved Argentina has been mooted as a possible alternative.
However, the Camanchd Association’s Torquil Macleod said no formal discussions had been held about taking the game across the Atlantic.
“I think this story came from discussions with a few GAA officials in the hospitality tent,” Mr Macleod told the Free Press. “The Camanachd Association haven’t discussed it. The game in New York was a possibility and is a nice idea. But if it were to happen it would need a big sponsor. If shinty can piggy-back on the appeal of the GAA then that’s great, but it’s not something we can pursue by ourselves.”
Mr Macleod stressed that no resources earmarked for shinty would be used to promote taking the game abroad.
“The shinty-hurling series is a self-contained package, and it’s starting to generate a small surplus for the association,” he said. “But if we were to think about going to New York that would require some very imaginative thinking and it would need some major sponsorship. The previous suggestion for New York was for a three-day trip, but for South America we’d be looking at longer.
“It’s not impossible, but there is no formal plan at this stage.”
Despite a run of Scottish defeats the Camanachd Association and the GAA plan to retain the shinty-hurling senior clash as a two-legged affair, Mr Macloed added. Next year’s match in Scotland is scheduled to coincide with the final day of the National Mod in Inverness, on Saturday 18th October.
In the shorter term, Mr Macleod also said discussions were underway to have shinty join a wider festival of sport being held in the Glasgow area during next year’s Commonwealth Games.
MEANWHILE, Mr Macleod admitted that a new experimental game — trialled for 10 minutes after the Irish leg of the shinty-hurling match at Croke Park — may be ditched.
The new game — entitled Iomain, which is the traditional Gaelic name for shinty — blended the two sports together with a prototype stick developed by caman producer Alan MacPherson and Irish hurley maker Michael Barron.
The Scots won the trial match — in which only goals count — 5-0, but the GAA have said they hope the idea might reinvigorate the concept of “ground hurling” across the Irish diaspora.
“The GAA are driving this, and if it can be used to promote shinty and add value to our own game then it will be worth considering,” Macleod said. “But at this stage we don’t know what will happen — we will have follow-up discussions, but it may go no further than that.”