Aberdeen University Shinty Club
With the 2018 season underway, Aberdeen University Shinty Club is working hard to enjoy a successful campaign. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Joe Folan to find out more about how they are getting along.
He told us, “I think I’ve been playing with Aberdeen since 2012, the seasons are piling up now! I had played some shinty with Robert Gordon University (RGU), which is University level shinty. Despite being called Aberdeen Uni, we have very little involvement with the University itself, and we play at club/adult level.
Another player who was a year ahead of me at RGU came to me and said since I was going to be spending the summer in Scotland (before that I’d always gone home between terms), it may as well be spent playing shinty. And he was not wrong. Given I played hurling (Irish version of shinty) for most of my life before coming to Scotland, to keep playing a sport in the same vein was a no brainer.”
“The most challenging thing is keeping the club going. Despite being the oldest registered shinty club in the country, we are a one team club, and in the North East of Scotland, where rugby, football and hockey reign, getting people into shinty can be a tough task.
Without the massive backing that some clubs on the other side of the country have, where the whole parish grows around the shinty club, things such as pitches, game transport, ref and competition fees, mean the bills can pile up. Making sure fundraising events such as team runs or race nights bring in enough to keep the club in the black can be hard given our limited scope.
The most rewarding thing is sitting down with the lads after a tough game and coming out with a win. Given the mileage we cover for games (our nearest away game is about two hours away), we spend a lot of time in about each other, either on the bus or in cars on the way to games. It’s cheesy as hell, but when the whistle goes and you’ve given it socks for 90 minutes, and it’s paid off, that feeling’s class.”
“Our 2018 season has just started, and after week one being culled due to the snow, we went out at bet Kinlochsheil 7-0 away from home at the weekend. So it’s safe to say we’re positive, but we’re realistic. There are teams in this league who will roll over on one day, but will turn up with a different dozen for the return game and make a show of you. A great start is half the work, but we know if we focus we can get a very good run going.”
“2017 was good, very good. We had just been promoted from North Division Two where we won every game that season, but we came up knowing life would be tough in the next tier. Survival was the key, just don’t be one of those teams who goes up, then straight down again.
We started well, a win on the road against Kingussie, and we built on that. Our home games were crucial, only losing one all season to the eventual league winners, and taking all bar three points on our travels. In the end we had pushed Newtonmore to within two points of the title, a fair achievement for a team just happy to survive five months beforehand!”
“Our plans in 2018 are to push on. We know promotion from this league could be seen as too much of an ask, but to put the pressure on the big names through the year is the plan, make them sweat. A nice run in the cup wouldn’t go amiss either, cups are something we have struggled with in our parts in recent years.”
“If you’d like to get involved just get in touch, we’re a fairly approachable group! From our starting twelve, there are lads from eleven different previous clubs around the country, only one of us was born in Aberdeen!
Some clubs can be a bit cliquey, boys who’ve played together for decades and don’t take kindly to strangers. That ain’t us; we’d never survive as a club with that attitude. There’s contact details for us on the shinty website, on our own Facebook page, even if you’ve never played before and just want to watch our games at Balgownie. We’ve had some players come along, pick up a stick and start rattling in the goals in no time, it can be done!”
“Our biggest challenge is keeping a squad on the go. With people moving away for work, or family, or Uni, it’s always been tough to get a squad out, we’ve never been a club loading the subs bench. But perseverance pays offs, we always manage to get lads in, who hear about us through mates, or see us training, or who played as a kid and always meant to get back into it. More of the same!
Our ambition is to be consistently in the top half of North Division One, and if the squad grew, who knows even a stint in the National. Oh, and a nice cup run would be a treat. Get ourselves on one of those televised matches … some folk can dream eh!”