ESA have certainly had their share of difficulties for their fledgling teams down south. Older players not returning post-covid, Devon is currently in abeyance and CSM Universities teams almost folding. But there is positive news of recovery, growth, curriculum coaching programs and new international opportunities too. ESA players will clock up a good few thousand miles playing shinty again this year, all on a shoe string, sleeping and playing where ever we can, floors, bogs and fields from Landsend to Strathglass, persuading local businesses to support us from Falmouth to Skye to enable us to introduce people to our great game.

We all travel vast distances to play shinty (some typically travelled around 8000miles/ year pre lockdown), most of ESA’s players who travel are students from Cornwall, designated as one of the poorest regions in Europe. ESA’s more experienced players are generally from the Highlands or Scottish Universities chasing jobs down south shortly after finishing at University. ESA also have one or two older crocks hanging in there. They are probably not so very different from their Scottish counterparts, though of course ESA can rarely train together.

Travelling to play shinty even over such large distances, needn’t cost the earth, (its certainly not cheap), but it can be done and the friends made cooped up on the bus for 36 hours to get thumped at Strachur, are the friends you’ll have for life, the ones that will find you a job when everything looks bleak, put you up when your landlord puts up the rent.

We’ve worked with so many local communities and businesses and quite a few in Scotland, to bring our sport alive and its incredible how supporting these networks can be. Abbott Risk Consulting supported ESA and the St Andrews 6s (which we’ve historically had a hand in) and are keen to work with us again this year. This may allow us to have matching strips once again and potentially help fund our coaching program at secondary school level.

Mead Camans of London have kindly made Cornwall’s Black Camans and some lovely trophies, as well of course of their amazing and quite often bespoke camans.

The Old Inn in Carbost are very generously supporting Cornwall Shinty Clubs tour to Skye again this year which just wouldn’t be possible without them. ESA apply for grants- occasionally even successfully- to help us subsidise our players, but having a high press is also key.

BBC Alba aired our historic first international shinty match with the USA back in 2013, with Hugh Dan Maclennan kindly doing the commentary.


BBC Radio Cornwall gives generous weekly coverage of all Cornwall’s matches whilst the Cornwall Channel aired a documentary charting the regeneration of the sport in Cornwall to more than 25,000 viewers (we’ve been playing shinty and hurling in Cornwall and England for many centuries). Who knew we’ld be singing on the main stage of the International Shanty Festival with the Longest Johns or refereeing the Lewis v Uist Heb Celt Clash of 2013, getting beaten by youngsters at Lochcarron  and at Aberdour the same day, coaching at Lewis’ summer shinty camp and at Ardnamurchan, or that Cornwall would end up playing England in the warm-up game before the Inverness 6s finals in 2015 and again in the St Andrews 6s final in 2019, with ESA women additionally winning the inaugural womens 6s event?

We had the pleasure of hosting The WCA Scotland Team and London GAA Camogie, playing a cracking couple of challenge matches in 2018, So many folk have helped along the way.

We love to host other teams and have been so lucky to have been so warmly received at so many clubs right across Scotland and Ireland, sleeping in changing rooms from the Dell to Portree, camping on pitches and bogs across the highlands. Our own ESA development officers have done fantastic work to re-think the roll out of shinty in the sassanchd, re-establishing the ESL post-covid etc and we have been lucky enough to be working with Roddy Young our CA Development Officer as well. Roddy has somehow found time to help us pull together our 10th Anniversary Tour this w/e when we travel to Scotland for 3 big matches.

Setting off in just 3 hours time (1.45am), ESA play Edinburgh Uni at Peffermill 8pm (7/4/2023), with England playing Fife Easter Sat 2pm (8/4/2023) at Silversands and hopefully Scottish Universities Select being allowed to wear the Scottish jerseys for the first time to play us on Easter Sunday- 3pm Peffermill (9/4/2023). ESA are still hoping they may not have to referee all their own matches in Scotland this w/e, but at least thanks to the CA they are starting to have the skills to do so! Having such ‘development’ internationals means so much to the players that commit so much to our great game. Whilst the disparity in levels across the border is fundamental, there are fantastic opportunities to showcase the development and growth of the sport at appropriate international levels as the Scottish Unis Select, Alba and USA fixtures clearly show. The aspiration to play for the national side and the lessons on the international pitch are all key to international development. England’s first match v Scottish Universities Select (Easter 2019), the Scots wore GU strips and ESA had to seek funding to book the pitch and pay for the referee (in Glasgow) as well as put together the Scottish Unis Select team. Huge thanks to the Glasgow Celtic Society for supporting the match. That was a cracking 17 goal game which the Scots won 10-7…So things are moving in the right direction, in no small part thanks to Roddy and all at the CA.    We’ve been so lucky to have met so many wonderful shinty players and those communities and companies who support them.

Huge thanks to all those that have supported us so generously over the last decade- your support means the world and makes everything possible, (disclaimer- ESA have not entered and may not win the Cam Cup 2023), but really, keep believing.

After a 10 year wait, could 2023 be the year ESA have their first genuinely home ‘senior’ game? With the ESL firing up for its 3rd season, the SWSL continuing to thrive, Stirling and St Andrews Universities considering tours to England and Cornwall, there really is a lot to be looking forward to. If you’ld like to travel down to play shinty in the sun, we’ld love to host you (Disclaimer the English Shinty Association cannot guarantee sunshine hours outside Cornwall). Really hope to meet you at a shinty pitch soon.  – Mathew Mossop, English Shinty Association.