TWO points in the final five minutes meant Ireland pipped Scotland 16-14 yesterday in the second Test of the Shinty/Hurling International at Croke Park.

It was a disciplined performance by the Scots, who looked as if they would take a point from the 80 minutes.

However, despite their heroics, the 2015 Internationals ended as one win for each nation.

Scotland had enjoyed a stress-free victory over the Irish back in October in Inverness but knew the green and whites would throw everything at this one.

Starring at the hallowed home of hurling is a badge of honour for any hurler and no one wants to leave that arena as the vanquished.

Indeed, Ireland started brightly and applied the pressure immediately. Zane Keenan, a stand-out in Inverness, got things going for the home nation with a one-point strike from distance.

Surprisingly, though, Scotland soon gained the upper hand and there was a stroke of fortune about their surge.

Newtonmore’s Steven MacDonald made no mistake from a 65-yard attempt, securing two points over the uprights but that was followed by a mistake from the Irish goalkeeper.

Eoin Reilly misjudged another MacDonald strike and only succeeded in palming the ball into his own goal for three points. If there was any doubt about it, Fraser Heath followed up and knocked both ball and keeper into the rigging.

Disappointed, Ireland began chalking up distance hits to eat into the Scots’ lead. Keenan, Eoin Price and Neal McAuley of Antrim all smacked long shots over for a point apiece.

Keenan also hit a long-range two pointer, checked only by a similar two point side-cut from Scotland’s Kevin Bartlett and, after 18 minutes, it was 7-6 to the Scots.

Keenan was eager not to allow that to continue and his fifth point in the first 20 minutes had things all square.

The match then entered a fascinating phase.

Patrick Maher ran with the ball on his stick into the danger area and Stuart MacKintosh had no chance as the player volleyed the ball home for a three-point goal for Ireland.

The Scots needed a response and got it. MacDonald once again had the Irish in a panic with a long hit and Bartlett, a Camanachd Cup winner, was on hand the batter the ball home for three points.

The same player then added a further two points before Ireland restored their lead, by one point, 13- 2.

Scottish keeper MacKintosh was crowded out in the penalty box and Keenan’s soaring shot landed behind him and into the net for three points.

At the interval, Ronald Ross MBE would not have been overly disappointed with his side’s display, or the scoreline, but it was a much hungrier and meaner looking Ireland from test one.

Their ability to chalk up point after point was relentless and there would have been few Scottish players ungrateful of the 10 minutes rest from the onslaught at the break.

As soon as the second period began, the Irish were at it again, forcing the pace. The crowd, beginning to swell inside Croke Park in anticipation of the start of the International rules clash between Ireland and Australia, which followed immediately afterwards, were finding their voice- and their klaxons.

In the second period, Bartlett got a two pointer for the out of luck Scots.

Ireland were served by strikes from Derek McNicholas (1) and the two crucial late points from Shane Nolan and Eoin Price.

It may have been a defeat, ultimately, for Scotland but there was much to take heart from.