From 2004 to 2008, the Scots reigned supreme in the single annual international clash but since the double game format was introduced four years ago, the boys in blue have struggled to compete against their Irish counterparts, especially last year in Ennis where the Scots received a lesson in finishing from their hosts.
"Ireland were certainly on song that day, but we have to remember that the last time we played them at Croke Park we beat them in front of their own people and that game took place just before their footballers took on Australia in the composite Gaelic football-Aussie rules international," said McNeil, whose team host the return in Inverness the following weekend. "We are on just before the football again this time and the size of the crowd, plus the occasion, should give our lads a lift.
"The recent rule change of reducing the number of points awarded for a goal from five to three should also help us because popping points over the bar from open play and from dead balls is really worth pursuing now. Last time we felt we had to focus on goal scoring but the Irish lads with their wide hurleys were able to defend their goal much better than we could with the thinner shinty stick."
Many of McNeil's team have not played competitively for a few weeks with the shinty season having ended in mid-September. To counter that he has had three good sessions with the squad and is encouraged by the fact it has a mixture of youth and experience, although some top players, such as Ronald Ross and Gary Innes, have left the international scene.
Camanachd Cup winners Newtonmore provide the backbone of the side with full-back Norman Campbell taking the captain's armband. He is supported in defence by club colleague Steven MacDonald and forwards Glen Mackintosh and Fraser Mackintosh, while the Kingussie duo of James Hutchison and Lee Bain complete the Badenoch input to the squad.
McNeil is particularly pleased that making the step up from last year's under-21s to the seniors are Conor Cormack, Liam MacDonald and Kinlochshiel's John MacRae, who joins his brothers Finlay and Keith in the side.
"Shinty's best chance is on the ground," McNeil said. "We know we have to keep the ball low and run with it wide up front where our stick skills give us an advantage. Our defenders need to commit to get to the ball first which is not necessarily what we do in shinty. Any loss of focus and the hurlers, whose game is more physical, will have the upper hand. But if we avoid that and remember to take our chances, then we can upset a few people at the GAA and please more than a few over here."