Opening league fixtures announced
THE OPENING Marine Harvest league fixtures have been confirmed and the Balliemore Cup draw has been added to the 2017 shinty schedule.
Marine Harvest Premiership
Newtonmore’s bid to secure an eighth successive title begins with a home match against Lovat. This will be a tough opening test for new Lovat boss Fraser Gallacher although the Balgate side were the only club to beat Paul John MacKintosh’s team last season, winning 2-1 at the Eilan in their Artemis Macaulay Cup tie.
Oban Camanachd travel north to play Kinlochshiel at Kirkton in an early meeting between two of Newtonmore’s nearest challengers last term.
Lochaber welcome Kyles Athletic to Spean Bridge on the opening day. Kyles won both their league fixtures last season although the Lochaber men came out on top in the Camanachd Cup after a replay.
Newly-promoted Kilmallie host Glenurquhart at Canal Parks. Both teams will be keen to gather early points with little to choose between a number of teams in the league,
Glasgow Mid Argyll, who also gained promotion from last year’s national league, are also at home. Kingussie are the opposition in what will be Dallas Young’s first competitive match as manager.
Marine Harvest National Division
The opening match of the day in this league could be the contest between Oban Celtic and Fort William in Oban. Both teams are new to the division, with Fort William relegated from the Marine Harvest Premiership whilst Oban Celtic secured promotion by winning Marine Harvest South Division 1.
Strathglass are another new addition to this league. David Balharry’s side finished second to the Newtonmore reserves in North one last season but they made a successful pitch to the Camanachd association to be moved up a division. They start against Caberfeidh at Cannich.
Skye Camanachd will be keen to get off to a winning start and they welcome Inverness to Pairc nan Laoch, Portree.
Inveraray and Bute are two of the three south teams in this league and they meet at the Winterton.
Beauly are the free team in this nine team league with a friendly meeting with Ballachulish a possibility as the Jubilee Park side doesn’t have a fixture either.
A preview of the north and south regional divisions will appear in next week’s Oban Times.
RBS MacTavish Cup - preview
Holders Newtonmore travel to An Aird to take on Fort William in the first round of the 2017 RBS MacTavish Cup.
In what looks to be a favourable draw, victory would give the holders another tie against Marine Harvest National Division opposition in the quarter-finals as they would meet the winners of the tie between Caberfeidh and Skye Camanachd at Castle Leod.
Glenurquhart and Lochaber meet at Blairbeg in what should be a keenly- contested affair. The ‘Glen’ won 2- 0 when the sides met at the same venue last season, whilst it was a 2-2 draw at Spean Bridge. The winners will host Strathglass or Lovat in the quarter finals. Fraser Gallacher’s Lovat side will start as favourites in this derby encounter but it’s very hard to predict who out of the ‘Glen’, Lochaber and Lovat will reach the last four where perhaps Newtonmore lie in wait.
Kilmallie will fancy their chances of a semi-final slot. Mark MacPherson’s side were given a first round bye followed by home advantage against Inverness in the last eight of the tournament.
Alan MacRae’s Beauly side also received a first round bye and they await whoever wins the all-Marine Harvest Premiership tie between Kinlochshiel and Kingussie which takes place at Kirkton. ’Shiel will be happy to have home advantage as each side won their home game when they met last season.
Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup - preview
2016 Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup winners Newtonmore colts begin the defence of their trophy at the Eilan where the Kilmallie colts, from the division below, come to visit.
The reward for the victors is a home tie against Strathdearn Cup winners Lochcarron or the Glasgow Mid Argyll second team who were drawn to play at Battery Park.
Last year’s runners-up, Kingussie seconds, host Skye Camanachd seconds in what should be a close tie with the winners off to Silversands to play Aberdour’s seconds.
Oban Lorn were given a first round bye so they will travel to take on whoever comes out on top in the tie between the Fort William and Kinlochshiel second teams at An Aird.
Lochside Rovers are off to Braeview Park to play the Beauly colts in the knowledge that an away tie against Lovat or Kyles Athletic reserve sides awaits.
The reconstituted Strathglass second team will play Caberfeidh’s second team and whoever progresses will be at home to Inverness reserves or Lewis Camanachd with all four of these sides playing in Marine Harvest North Division 2.
Glengarry will have a particular interest in the opening round tie at Spean Bridge between the Lochaber and Inveraray second teams as they will have home advantage against the winners in the next round.
Caithness will again field a side in the cup competitions and whilst they got a opening round bye, they will travel to play either Forces side SCOTS Camanachd or the Bute seconds in the next round.
The Glenurquhart reserves and Boleskine were also given first round byes and they meet at Blairbeg in the second round.
Bullough Cup Draw - preview
2016 Bullough Cup holders Tayforth play in the Balliemore Cup so they won’t have the opportunity to defend their trophy.
Last year’s runners-up Kilmory open with the visit of SCOTS Camanachd to MacRae Park. The eventual winners will travel to the Winterton to play the Inveraray seconds who got a first round bye.
The Aberdour reserves and Lochside Rovers both received opening round byes and will meet at Silversands in the quarter finals.
The English Shinty Association will be excited about a trip to Tighnabruaich to face the Kyles colts.
Oban Lorn have home advantage against Dunoon with the victors away to Strachur or Glasgow Mid Argyll reserves. The winners will travel to the Meadows to take on Bute reserves.
Strathdearn Cup Draw - preview
Lochcarron open their Strathdearn Cup defence with a second round tie against the Kingussie second team.
The Fort William seconds were one of only four clubs given a first round tie and they should be too strong for Caithness at An Aird. The winners will host the Kinlochshiel seconds.
The other first round tie gives the Beauly seconds home advantage against Glengarry. The winners will host the Glenurquhart second team in the second round with Fort William, Caithness or Kinlochshiel awaiting in the quarter finals.
The Lochaber seconds or Lewis Camanachd will be at home to Newtonmore or Lovat seconds in the last eight of the competition.
The Strathglass or Inverness colts will be at home to Boleskine or the Skye Camanachd second team at the same stage of the competition.
Some early pre-season friendlies took place on Saturday January 28. Aberdour P Fort William P Fort William were due to travel to Silversands to play Aberdour. However heavy overnight rain meant the match had to be postponed so the pitch wasn’t damaged ahead of the new shinty season.
Lisa MacColl’s Aberdour squad host Marine Harvest Premiership new-boys Glasgow Mid Argyll at the same venue this Saturday, whilst Fort William will be at home to Kyles Athletic in the Drew Ferguson Memorial Cup match. Beauly 3 Aberdeen University 3 A Beauly side hosted Aberdeen University in a noon throw-up at Braeview Park and the contest ended in an entertaining 3-3 draw. A Jack MacDonald double and a Calum Morrison goal counted for Beauly whilst Ewen Fraser, a Jamie Beaton penalty and a Gregor Cushnie goal, with the Lochcarron player guesting to make up the Aberdeen 12, earned the students a draw. Inverness 0 Kinlochshiel 8 Boss Johnston Gill got his second spell at ’Shiel off to a successful start with a comprehensive 8- 0 win over Inverness in their 1pm throw-up at the Bught Park outside pitch.
Kinlochshiel went in front in the opening minute courtesy of a low John MacRae shot from just outside the left of the ‘D’.
Keith MacRae made it 2- 0 with another low, measured finish from between the penalty spot and the edge of the ‘D’, beating the keeper on his right side.
Keith MacRae then saw a shot come off the post after a sweeping move on 15 minutes.
A couple of minutes later, Finlay MacRae burst forward from midfield and sprinted up the ’Shiel right wing, but he was brought crashing to the ground by Davie Glass which earned the Inverness man a ticking off from referee Calum Girvan.
The free hit was played across goal.
The home back-line passed up chances to clear the danger and Keith MacRae punished them with a low strike into the net at the back post.
The home side’s first real threat at goal came when youngster William MacKinnon shot from the right but ’Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy made a good save at the expense of a corner.
‘Shiel conjured up a delightful goal to make it 4- 0. Keith MacRae crossed the ball in from the left and a superb Jordan Fraser touch teed the ball up perfectly for John MacRae to strike the ball home.
The pattern of play continued with the visitors doing most of the pressing. Duncan ‘DA’ MacRae made an immediate impact when he played a onetwo with John MacRae before scoring with a confident finish from the left.
John MacRae completed his hat-trick, netting from a rebound off the keeper, to make it 6- 0.
Duncan Matheson scored the goal of the game when he collected the ball on the ’Shiel right and crashed it into the roof of the net, giving keeper Loades no chance.
A neat turn and shot from Alasdair Nixon deserved a goal but the ball flew past the post and it remained 7- 0.
Scott Kennedy had to stretch low to his right to turn away a William MacKinnon shot and, following an Inverness set-piece after MacKinnon had been impeded, Scott Kennedy did well to clear his lines.
’Shiel immediately broke forward and Alasdair Nixon ran through the heart of the home defence before slotting the ball into the net to round off the 8- 0 win. Oban Celtic 4 Taynuilt 0 Oban Celtic beat Taynuilt 4- 0 in their 12.30pm throw up at Mossfield.
New signings Andrew Hunt and Fulton Ronald were given a run out from a 19- player Oban Celtic squad but new capture from Oban Camanachd, Ross MacMillan, was unavailable.
Ally McKerracher, Iain Mackechnie, Scott Burnett and Daniel Madej got the goals in what was a good work- out for Kenny Wotherspoon’s side.
Shinty action this Saturday
There are a number of preseason friendlies scheduled for Saturday February 4.
Included in the weekend games are Oban Camanachd’s meeting with Inveraray at Mossfield, Lochside Rovers and Oban Lorn clashing at Ganavan, Fort William and holders Kyles Athletic meeting at An Aird for the Drew Ferguson Memorial Trophy and Newtonmore taking on Lochaber at the Eilan.
Badenoch and Strathspey lift Johnstone Rose Bowl
Badenoch and Strathspey Ladies lifted the Johnstone Rose Bowl at the Nevis Centre, Fort William, on Saturday January 28.
Skye Camanachd had won the tournament for the previous three years and won through to the final again.
Badenoch topped their fiveteam group stage, only dropping one point in the process.
Badenoch then beat Glengarry A 10-3 in the semi-finals to set up a final with Skye.
The match finished 5-5 at the end of the regulation time so an extra four minutes was needed to separate the teams. There was still plenty drama before Badenoch eventually ran out 7- 6 victors.
Badenoch’s Kirsty Deans was named player of the tournament.
The Johnstone Rose Bowl was donated to the Glengarry Girls Shinty Club in 1998 - a year after the team was formed - by Mrs Ailsa Johnstone of DA Johnstone & Son Contractors, Invergarry, who have been loyal sponsors ever since.
Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers set pre-season programme
Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers have confirmed their final pre-season programme.
On Saturday February 4, Marine Harvest National Division side Inveraray visit Mossfield to play Oban Camanachd. On the same day, Marine Harvest South Division 1 side Lochside Rovers and Oban Lorn from the league below meet at Ganavan. Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers will play the Kyles Athletic first and second teams a week later and these games will now take place at Ganavan. The Oban Camanachd squad travel to Cannich on Saturday February 18 to play Strathglass, a new addition to the Marine Harvest National Division. Lochside Rovers are also in action that day against the Newtonmore second team at Ganavan.
Finally, on Saturday February 25, Lochside Rovers will host the Inveraray second team at Ganavan.
Glenurquhart prepare for 2017
The Glenurquhart first and second teams have confirmed their pre-season matches ahead of the 2017 campaign.
In the first of four home matches against Marine Harvest National Division opposition, new Glenurquhart first team manager Iain MacLeod will get a chance to see his troops in action when Caberfeidh visit Blairbeg on Saturday February 4.
The ‘Glen’ seconds will play the Cabers seconds at Castle Leod the same day.
The ‘Glen’ firsts follow that up with another home match a week later, this time against Beauly, whilst the reserves travel to play their Fort William counterparts at An Aird.
There are home and away meetings with Skye Camanachd on Saturday February 18 with the first teams clashing at Blairbeg.
Glenurquhart round the month off with their annual MacDonald Cup and Ali Ban Cup derbies against Strathglass taking place at Blairbeg on Saturday February 25.
Inverness line up top friendlies
Inverness have lined up four more pre-season friendly matches – all against Marine Harvest Premiership opposition.
Having lost 8- 0 to Kinlochshiel at the Bught Park outside pitch last Saturday, Drew McNeil’s Marine Harvest National Division will play the same opponents on Saturday February 4 in the Highland capital.
Newly-promoted premiership side Kilmallie visit the Bught Park a week later.
There will be a meeting with Newtonmore at the Eilan on Saturday February 18 followed by Lochaber at the Bught Park on the final Saturday of the month.
Donnie Ross, Kingussie
Kingussie lost one of their most famous captains when Donnie Ross passed away peacefully at his home at Leault Farm on Sunday January 22.
Donnie Ross captained the Kingussie team which lifted the 1961 Camanachd Cup, beating Oban Celtic 2-1 at the King George V Park, Fort William.
He also represented the club with distinction through the 1950s and 1960s.
Donnie is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Donnie, Neil, Peter and Duncan and daughter Aeleen, and his funeral took place at Kingussie Parish Church on Monday January 30 with the interment at Leault Farm.
Oban Celtic’s Andy MacDonald, right, takes on teammate John Hill who ‘guested’ for Taynuilt in the pre-season friendly at Mossfield last Saturday.
Inverness player Ruairidh MacKay gets to the ball before Kinlochshiel’s Ali Nixon during last weekend’s pre-season friendly match.