NZGAA held their Gaelic games 'finals' weekend in Hagley Park, Christchurch over the Saturday and the Sunday and challenged some of their Scottish members to a shinty / hurling exhibition match prior to the grand final on Sunday.
Former Ardnamurchan players Lucy MacMillan, and her brother Jack were the key instigators in reaching out via social media to Scots currently living in NZ. They had a great response and an 11 aside "unisex" game went ahead in front of a very enthusiastic (and slightly inquisitive) crowd.
Most of the players are young and fit and play a variety of field sports including hurling, camogie and rugby but they had to be to compete with the very athletic Irish hurlers. Four females took to the field (two for each side) and the Scots girls did women's shinty proud. Former Glasgow University player Nina Butowski had a stellar game in defence and Ardnamurchan's Lucy Macmillan's fitness and shinty skills in midfield made it hard work for her opponent.
The team also had on board two or three old shinty dogs from yesteryear that did more than just make up numbers. Playing at full forward was former Caberfeidh player, Ian Bartlett who fired a bullet past the Irish goalkeeper's ear to put the Scots a goal up. The lead was extended after a couple of points over the bar but the Irish broke through with a goal midway through the second half and pinched victory in the dying minutes to win by a point. Such was this occasion that many of the Scots had booked the Monday off work in advance so they could have the craic with their hosts after the game in "The BOG" Irish bar.
Ian Bartlett emigrated to New Zealand in 1996 but his love for the game never died and he proudly drives around the north island with the registration plate 'SHINTY' on his car.
Former Lochaber player Hugh MacPhee played in goal and ironically when he arrived into NZ back in 2004 had the same idea about his registration plate but had to settle for the digit "1" to replace the letter "I".