Shinty has a relatively low profile in Edinburgh and the central belt of Scotland. But in some parts of the country, especially the highlands shinty is a way of life.
With little international competition for the Scottish shinty team they have teamed up with the similar Irish sport of Hurling in order to have an annual international contest.This year’s competition started this weekend with Scotland recording their first win in four years in the competition with a 23-14 score in their favour.
For those new to shinty, each team has 12 players on each side, and although the play is a bit like a mixture of hockey and golf. All players are armed with a wooden stick known as a caman to move the ball. Similar to football, the game consists of two 45-minute halves.
Shinty is a contact sport, so matches are very physical occasions, especially with the fierce rivalry between shinty towns in Scotland – none more so than that between Highland neighbours Newtonmore and Kingussie. They might be just down the road from each other in terms of geography, but when it comes to shinty these teams are two of the best in the world and they are sworn rivals.
The Newtonmore team famously boasts a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. In 2005 they were named most successful club team in the world after winning 20 consecutive league trophies and remaining unbeaten for four years.
The top teams play for the Camanachd Cup, the top knock-out tournament in Shinty. Camanachd being the traditional gaelic name for Shinty which is still used by the Camanachd Association, the governing body of shinty around the world.
This is the first competition where Kingussie legend Ronald Ross, known in the shinty community as “Ronaldo of the Glens” due to his prolific scoring ability, acted as the manager of the national team for Scotland. The return leg of the Shinty Hurling International will take place this Saturday in Ireland.