The first question on everyone's minds when they come to practices is: ‘So what exactly is shinty?'. Despite years of practice to polish our responses, we still don't have an answer adequate enough to encapsulate the full essence of this exciting sport. Favourite attempts include: ‘like field hockey but with no rules'; ‘full contact golf'; and ‘ice hockey on grass'.
Shinty is a traditional Celtic sport incorporating camans (shinty sticks), a leather ball, 2 goal posts, cleeks, shies and 9 players, plus a hardy goalie on each team. Within the two 35 minute halves, the aim of the game is to score into the opposing goal by any means necessary. There are famously less rules in shinty than in other field sports – you can hit the ball with both sides of your caman, stop the ball with your feet, swing as high as you like and get away with that accidental hit to the knee... The only rule to be concerned with is "don't kick the ball"!!
Shinty may seem slightly more aggressive than some other sports but we follow the same contact rules as football! Wearing shin pads and helmets are recommended as full golf-like swings are allowed on the pitch. That being said, it's really not as dangerous as rumour suggests - statistically speaking, there's a higher chance of injury from the supplementary shinty social activities!
Older than Christianity, the game originated in Scotland and Ireland, with Celtic communities playing amongst themselves and other neighbouring villages in the Highlands during winter. A key tradition involved the Highland teams playing tournaments on festival days (especially New Years Day). It was also used for safe sword fight practicing and in preparation for battle during the Middle Ages. Through the centuries, the game developed into what we now know as shinty (camanachd) in Scotland, hurling in Ireland and ice hockey in Canada.
The St Andrews Women's club was formed in 1994 and is now a strong member of the Scottish Sports University Shinty League which includes Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Dundee and RGU. We won the league in 2013-14 and came top of the league this past year (2016-17).
St Andrews Shinty clubs host a number of tournaments throughout the year. Dropkick Murphy's in autumn, Littlejohn's in the spring and the Alumni Sixes tournament at the start of May.
Consisting of full matches and smaller six-a-side games, these are great opportunities to test out your skills whilst getting to know your fellow shinty players from around Scotland and the UK.