Cup blow for Newtonmore
Shinty: More fail in bid to have suspended MacDonald available for final
Premiership champions Newtonmore have failed in a bid to play a midweek game to enable key defender Steven MacDonald to be eligible to play in the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final against Lovat at Inverness on September 30.
The Camanachd Association has refused the Eilan club permission for a midweek fixture against Lochaber at Spean Bridge to enable MacDonald to complete a two-game suspension in time for the showpiece final.
Lochaber had been happy to bring forward the fixture, scheduled for October 7, to accommo- date their neighbours and to finish their season three weeks earlier.
Newtonmore manager Paul John Mackintosh said: “We made the request to bring the Lochaber game forward, which would have suited both teams, but the association has turned us down, saying there was no chance it would consider it.
“We’re extremely disappointed at thus not having Steven available for the final, particularly as we understand that the association has in the past allowed other clubs to do the same thing in the same circumstances.
“It seems Newtonmore are not to be granted the same consideration but we’ll just get on with it.”
MacDonald, last year’s Camanachd Cup-winning captain, incurred a booking against Kyles Athletic last Saturday which took him through the disciplinary points limit and triggered his second suspension of the season. The ban does not take effect until after tomorrow and thus the second game will be the cup final.
Camanachd Association fixtures chief Astie Cameron would only say yesterday: “We have had no official approach from Newtonmore on this matter.”
The association apparently does not consider a phone call from the manager as a formal request from the club.
However, it is thought it would look unfavourably on any such letter on the basis that allowing Lochaber to bring forward the fixture would be seen as unfair to the other teams in the relegation struggle.
Meanwhile, Mackintosh will not play two players in tomorrow’s big game with Kyles Athletic at Mossfield Park to avoid them also being suspended on the big day.
Top scorer Glen Mackintosh and former under-21 international midfield player David Maclean are one booking away from a ban and they will be rested, leaving Newtonmore under strength for a key game in the title run-in.
If they fail to win this one, then their chance of an eighth successive title may be gone.
The match with Kyles has been switched to Oban because the Tighnabruiach pitch is not playable and Kyles are taking advantage of Oban’s game being postponed.
“Our pitch is in very poor condition”, said Kyles secretary Mick Atkinson.
“Rather than risk postponement at a late inspection, we’ve arranged to play at Mossfield Park.”
Athletic are without suspended key attacker Roddy Macdonald. Lovat full centre Craig Mainland has won his race to be ready for the Camanachd Cup final after his hamstring injury proved not as serious as feared.
“It has turned out to be more of a strain than a pull and, though it may keep him out of this weekend’s visit to Glasgow Mid Argyll, he’ll be OK for the final,” said manager Fraser Gallacher. “That’s a massive relief for we feared the worst and Craig is an important man in our tactical plans for the final.”
The Kiltarlity side left defender Drew Howie out last week to avoid being suspended for the final and has four players walking the tightrope tomorrow.
“I won’t say who they are but they will each play for 45 minutes at Mid Argyll,” said Gallacher. “They will go out with strict instructions not to get involved in anything that might earn them a booking.”
Lovat know that if they win their final four league games they can earn a third-place spot but Mid Argyll, three points adrift with three games in hand, are fighting for their lives and this is their last home outing.
Kinlochshiel, three wins away from their first Marine Harvest Premiership title, are ready to switch tomorrow’s home game with Glen Urquhart to Kiltarlity if required.
“We’ve not given up home of our pitch recovering in time but our players want to get on with things, so we have booked Balgate Park as a stand-by,” said manager Johnston Gill.
“Scott Maclean is back from suspension and everyone is fit and well.”
Scotland skipper John Barr returns from suspension for Glen’s final game of the season as they seek to snatch what could be an extremely precious point in their bid to stay up.
Skye will be presented with the National Division trophy before their game with Inveraray at Portree.