We caught up with Scotland U21s Manager Alan MacRae, following the Mowi Shinty/Hurling International on Saturday.
Q: Alan, obviously the final result was not what you were hoping for going into the game, but what positives can you take from the match?
The main positive we can take from the result will be the experience gained by the 7 players who made their debuts at Under-21 level on Saturday. It is nigh on impossible to explain to them the intensity and physicality of play against the hurlers. There is a huge step up from under 17 level to under 21 level where in this match they played against top class up and coming hurlers from 1st tier counties. Also all the players showed good determination and gave everything they had on the day and kept competing to the best of their ability- even during a difficult second half when their heads could easily have gone down.
Q: After an amazing end to end first half, where Scotland went in 1 point up, Ireland seemed to turn up the heat 2nd half. What do you think changed at half-time for the Irish?
We scored some good goals and competed well in the first half, however we did let the Irish off the hook, as we did not convert our 2 pointers and also on a number of occasions shot for goal from distance rather than take the point for over the bar. In the second half, the Irish came out with renewed determination and took back on their star player in Mark Kehoe from All Ireland winners Tipperaray. He proved in the second half to be too hot to handle for our defenders and scored 4 goals. The Irish management also changed formation by dropping an extra defender into the centre of defence, he made a huge impact and we struggled to pin him down and stop him from intercepting our attacks and orchestrating their forward movement. The Irish fitness and quality was there for all to see, and they took advantage during the second half as our boys continued to try hard but struggled to make an impact on their game flow.
Q: The U21s are a talented group, many of whom will undoubtedly go on to make Senior International appearances, how valuable is the experience they gained on Saturday
This experience is essential for the players who could potentially move into the senior ranks. Some of the players they have played against this weekend are 1st tier hurlers who are already at the top of their game and who are playing in senior county competition. The Irish always take the Under 21 International extremely seriously, so this experience will stand our players in good stead for stepping up to compete for places in the senior ranks in the future.
Q: What lessons did the team learn on Saturday?
I would like to think we as a team will have learnt that you cannot give the Irish an inch or they will take a mile. The importance of hitting the two pointers and keeping the scoreboard ticking over and pushing your advantage when you have it is paramount and something that we need to be better prepared for next year.
Q: What’s next for you as a manager?
As a manager I as always enjoy the process and overall working with the Under 21s, who are a great bunch of boys. Although disappointed with the result this year, I have really enjoyed the experience over the last few years, with last years good win in Ireland being the highlight. I am now going to enjoy the break over the close season and will look forward to next year and the forthcoming domestic season.