What a cute doggie!

This Scottish Terrier is a Newtonmore fan, which you can tell as it is wearing a club jersey. Newtonmore are one of the top shinty clubs. This photo was taken at the Camanachd Cup final (the premier cup competition) in 2016 when Newtonmore beat Oban 1:0. This started a run for Newtonmore when they won in 2017, 2018 & 2019. There won't be a cup competition in 2020, for obvious reasons.

Camanachd, or shinty, is the traditional ball and stick game of the Gàidhealtachd (Highlands of Scotland). It is a team game with 12 players per side, played on a grass covered pitch about 150m long and 70m wide.

It is a contact sport played with a leather covered ball, and 1m long sticks called a caman (literally bent stick). The winning team is the one that scores more goals. The goals are reminiscent of those used in football, but more square shaped.

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The origins of shinty are ancient, although the modern team game dates to the late 19th century (in common with most present day team sports). The game probably shares similar origins with Irish Hurling and Welsh Bando.

It is speculated that the game was developed to keep the clan's warriors in top physical condition and to improve their hand-eye co-ordination. Anyone who has ever viewed a Newtonmore & Kingussie shinty match will testify that things haven't changed much.

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The first literary mention of hurling/shinty came in the Tain Bo Cuailgne which centres around the exploits of the shared Scottish & Irish mythical hero Cù Chullainn (roughly a Celtic equivalent of Haracles). The epic story was written in the 12th century, but the events, including the games described, probably date to around 500BC.

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For comparison the photo shows an Irish camán, a shinty ball and a Scottish caman. Although the hurling stick is broader it is much lighter, as it is designed for controlling the ball in the air. The Scottish shinty stick is much heavier as it is designed for hitting the ball on the ground. The shinty stick is also more robust as it is legitimately used to block the competing player's swing.

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The curved end of the Scottish shinty stick is angled to give lift when striking the ball. The angle is very shallow for players in forward positions (you want low balls so they go in the goal). Defensive player's sticks are more steeply angled so the ball can be "lifted" up field.

The goalkeeper's stick is even broader at the base as it is used to prevent the ball going in the goal.

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@fitheach I've read that hurling (/shinty) was a form of training for using a hurley and some stones for skirmishing: at the beginning of a battle, armies' skirmishers would belt stones at one another with hurleys. Similar to slings, atlatls, and probably lacrosse: highly effective ranged weapons that are too dangerous to use once battle is joined or you kill your own peeps.
How dangerous? Stone-crushes-helmet dangerous. Alexander the "Great" was very nearly killed once by one.

@fitheach Allegedly the early IRA also used Hurleys to drill soldiers in how to hold and run and crouch with rifles, because groups of men could safely walk and run around carrying "bent sticks" under British rule.

That sounds entirely plausible. I wonder if there are actual written accounts of such things happening.

What you describe is portrayed in the 2006 film "The Wind That Shakes The Barley". The film opens with our hero watching a game. He is later seen training with a camán, in place of a rifle.

@fitheach Ah, that was it, I knew there was some cinematic image in my head. :)
Now I'm doubting myself and maybe it was from that film alone that I remember that "factoid" 🤔

@cathal @fitheach It's definitely in the mythology, whether it was true or not. I know for a fact that the Officials did this when they didn't have enough training rifles. Whether inspired by history or myth is an interesting question.

Do you think that is right? The modern hurling camán is very flat, you certainly couldn't use it as a sling style weapon. Using the camán to hit a stone wouldn't give it much range. Unless, of course, ancient camán were of very different design.

@fitheach I don't know that it is, would be interested to read further TBH. It's depicted in the Cúchulainn myth of course, and it's generally plausible given how hurling is played (Hurleys seem to be broader than camáns at the hitting end). Just replace the sliotar with a suitable stone..
If they were used for war though I would indeed expect a different design in wartime.
Apparently katana used to vary substantially between peace/war, from ceremonial to practical design. :)

We had a summer student in the lab from Grantown on Spey a long time ago (~30 years ago if I remember correctly) who played shinty. He was a big lad, I wouldn't want to be up against him at anything. To give you an idea how big he was, 5 of us including him had just climbed ben Alder and were almost back to the car, he decided that 1 of our party was being a bit annoying. What did he do? He picked him up, ruck sac and all and threw him in the river beside Culra Bothy.

Sounds like a useful chap to have on *your* team.

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