Shinty round-up

Lovat Captain Greg Matheson holds the Lovat Cup aloft. Lovat Cup Match - Lovat v Beauly. Game played at Braeview, Beauly as Balgate was unplayable.

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Lovat retained the Lovat Cup as four-goal Greg Matheson gave them a convincing 4-0 victory over Beauly at Braeview Park on Tuesday January 2.

The match was originally scheduled for Lovat’s Balgate home but a frozen pitch led to a venue switch to Beauly’s ground.

Conditions underfoot were difficult for the players who kept the gathering of shinty supporters from across the country entertained throughout the 90 minutes.

Lovat went into this 1pm throw-up as holders, having won the previous year’s encounter 5-2 at Braeview Park.

Lovat were also favourites, having finished third in the Marine Harvest Premiership last season whilst Beauly ended the year in fifth spot in the Marine Harvest National Division.

Lovat Cup games have been known to go against form though and Beauly had been training hard for this encounter.

Both sides had absentees in attack as Beauly were missing Conor Ross whilst Lovat’s Calum MacAulay was also unavailable.

The hosts made a composed start to the game and an early Jack MacDonald shot went wide of goal.

When a ball across goal reached Greg Matheson, his strike from the left tested Beauly keeper Josh Grant but he turned the ball away at the expense of a corner.

Marc MacLachlan tried to flick a Greg Matheson ball on target but his effort went past the post.

Both defences remained on top and the match stayed level until 37 minutes. Marc MacLachlan controlled the ball on the Lovat left. MacLachlan, playing against his former club, then drifted the ball in on target. Beauly keeper Josh Grant stretched to turn MacLachlan’s effort away with his caman.

Beauly looked to clear, but Greg Matheson won possession and played a one-two with Duncan Davidson before running to the right, steadying himself and crashing the ball into the net to open the scoring.

Despite the setback, Beauly remained in contention and Sean Stewart went close but was foiled by Lovat custodian Stuart MacDonald.

With the rain coming down, Lovat’s Lewis Tawse gave the crowd something to cheer about with a great run forward from midfield, juggling the ball on his caman, but the Beauly defence cleared the danger.

Lovat scored a second goal just minutes before half-time to take a firm grip of the match. This was a superb solo effort from Greg Matheson who tracked back into the middle of the park where he dispossessed Barrie MacDonald on the Beauly left.

Matheson then went on a surging run forward, cutting infield before blasting a blistering back-hand drive into the top corner of the net to make it 2-0 at the break.

Greg Matheson completed his hat-trick 10 minutes after the re-start. Lorne MacKay played in a corner from the Lovat left to the back post where Matheson had lost his marker. The Lovat top scorer flicked the ball in the air before striking the dropping ball. His left-sided shot took a bounce past the keeper and the Balgate side had one hand on the trophy.

The quality of the four Lovat goals was something to behold and Matheson’s fourth strike was no exception. Marc MacLachlan’s initial shot, following a free-hit, was deflected onto the Lovat right wing. Matheson was first to the ball and he held off a challenge before squeezing a low, back-hand drive between keeper Josh Grant and his left post to make it 4-0.

Marc MacLachlan forced the ball into the Beauly net, but it was ruled out for offside.

Greg Matheson then won possession and pushed forward before playing a weighted pass to Marc MacLachlan on the right. MacLachlan beat his marker but his low shot came off Josh Grant’s left post and the keeper scrambled the ball away for a corner.

Referee Martin MacLean brought proceedings to an end and it was fitting that it was Lovat captain Greg Matheson who was presented with the Lovat Cup by the 16th Lord Lovat Simon Fraser.

The Scotland forward has been a key player in this fixture in recent years and he was the main difference between the sides. Lovat’s Lewis Tawse can also be pleased with his performance, as can Beauly’s Josh Grant.

Neil MacDonald takes over at Lochaber

Neil MacDonald is the new Lochaber first team manager.

Neil takes over from Ally Ferguson who had been in charge of the Spean Bridge side for the last three seasons.

Ally Ferguson called for improved player commitment just before he left his post and Neil MacDonald assumes the role under the same mantra.

A classy player, MacDonald came out of retirement last season to appear initially for the second team and then help the seniors and he hasn’t ruled out playing in the Marine Harvest Premiership next season, should it be necessary.

John Fraser has been persuaded to stay on in charge of the Lochaber second team who will play in Marine Harvest North Division 2.

Michael MacKinnon is Oban Celtic player of the year

Michael MacKinnon has been named 2017 Oban Celtic player of the year.

Michael was the choice of Oban Celtic manager Kenny Wotherspoon who said: ‘Michael has been there for most of the games last season and he also trains well. He’s been solid in defence and was asked to play in the centre line away to Inveraray when we won 2-1 and played well. He’s a quiet guy who listens to me and he just gets his head down and gets on with it. He really deserves this award.’

New Oban Celtic signings

Oban Celtic manager Kenny Wotherspoon has made two new signings ahead of the 2018 season.

Glenorchy full centre Dylan Cooke has joined the Oban side as has Oban Lorn defender Calum MacLean.

The pair will add to Kenny’s selection options after David MacInnes confirmed his retirement, whilst Connor Howe is unlikely to be available on a regular basis.

Wotherspoon hasn’t given up hope of further adding to his squad before the new season starts.

John Collie Cup

Oban Camanachd host The John Collie Cup at Mossfield on Saturday January 13.

This will be a mixed match with players from the club’s U17 side, Lochside Rovers, Oban Camanachd and ex-players taking part. Throw-up is at 1pm.

Oban Camanachd training

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers start their pre-season training at Oban High School’s gym on Monday January 15.
New players welcome.

Kingussie veterans stay on top

The Kingussie Veterans retained the Bob Sinclair Memorial Trophy with a 3-1 New Year’s Day win over the club’s Young Pups at Market Stance.

The game was played in what could be described as ‘proper shinty conditions’ with a dusting of snow and a touch of frost, along with a bobbly pitch. This made the old timers feel quite at home but perhaps did not suit the Pups, raised and spoiled on summer shinty, who found it a touch cold.

The Kingussie Veterans went into the contest as holders and their forward line of Gary Dallas, John Gibson, Kevin Thain and Ronald Ross looked threatening from the throw-up, forcing Young Pups’ keeper Robert Shiells into a couple of good early saves.

It was no great surprise when Ronald Ross opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a low, hard shot into the corner of Shiells’ goal. The Pups’ midfield of Rory MacGregor, Ryan MacWilliam and Calum Grant began to provide some decent balls for their forwards, but the experienced defence of Michael Thain, Iain Borthwick, Garry Munro and Martin Genini proved hard to break down with Savio Genini getting no cuttings from his ‘old man’ whilst Roddy Young, Ruaridh Anderson and James Falconer were unable to find space within the tight confines of the Market Stance football pitch and they rarely troubled Craig Dawson in goals.

Both teams regularly used all six substitutes, partly to save the legs but mostly to keep warm, as the temperature dropped further with the mist rolling in off the River Spey.

Early in the second half, Kevin Thain found himself in space on the right and he fired an unstoppable shot across keeper Shiells and into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0.

The youngsters pulled a goal back when Savio Genini was quickly in to convert a re-bound off keeper Craig Dawson, but Ronald Ross soon restored the Veterans’ two-goal cushion when he made it 3-1.

The Young Pups had the chance to narrow the deficit when they were awarded a penalty, correctly given when keeper Craig Dawson was penalised for a blatant push in the back on Lee Bain inside the box.
Lee Bain could not convert from the spot though and the Veterans held on for the win.

This was an entertaining game played in front of a large crowd made up of locals and interested New Year visitors to Kingussie. Kingussie stalwart Donnie Grant presented the Bob Sinclair Memorial Trophy to Veterans captain Michael Thain and both sets of players then gathered to enjoy New Year refreshments.

John Gibson is new Kingussie manager

Kingussie Camanachd Club has announced John Gibson will be their first team manager for 2018.

John Gibson is a hugely experienced player who has won every honour in the game, including seven Camanachd Cups between 1995 and 2014, captaining the team to success in 2006 when they defeated Fort William 4-2 at Dunoon.

He has also coached the club’s U17 team for many years, leading them to victory in the national competition, The London Shield, in 2017.
In his professional life, John Gibson is north area manager for Thain Electrical, based in Aviemore.

Kingussie are both delighted and excited by the appointment as Gibson takes over from Dallas Young who led the side to a fifth place finish in last season’s Marine Harvest Premiership.

John is still to name his assistant manager but he will be in action quickly as the club has a full pre-season programme arranged for February.

Kingussie host newly-promoted Premiership side Caberfeidh at The Dell on Saturday February 3 ahead of the club’s annual sixes competition the week after.

Next up is a home meeting with Premiership champions Kinlochshiel on Saturday February 24, whilst the side travel to Yoker at the end of the month to play Glasgow Mid Argyll with the new season starting on Saturday March 3.

John MacLeod returns as Skye manager

John MacLeod has returned to the Skye Camanachd first team manager’s role ahead of the start of the 2018 shinty season.

John MacLeod previously managed the side from 2014 to 2016 when he led the team to successive Marine Harvest North Division 1 and National Division titles, followed by the club’s first season in the Premiership since 2002.

John stepped down after the team was relegated at the end of the 2016 season but, with Willie Cowie in charge last season, the islanders made an immediate return to shinty’s top flight by again winning the National Division. When Cowie announced his decision to step down after just 12 months in charge, the club went on the hunt for his successor and are delighted to have secured a manager with premiership experience.

Neil MacVicar joins Kyles Athletic

Neil MacVicar has left Skye Camanachd to join Kyles Athletic.
Neil came through the Skye youth ranks and was part of the Skye team which won the Marine Harvest National Division last season. The defender has premiership experience having played in the top flight for Skye in the 2016 season.

He had been travelling from the central belt to play for Skye and will undoubtedly be an asset to the Tighnabruaich side.

Neil MacVicar strengthens a family connection with the Tighnabruaich club as his uncles Duncan and Ronnie MacVicar played for the side.

Neil MacVicar is a second absentee for new Skye boss John MacLeod to contend with as midfielder Gilleasbuig MacDonald, who has shown great commitment, travelling from Glasgow each week for a number of years to play for the side, has also opted not to play for the islanders this coming term and may look for a club closer to his Glasgow base.

Glenorchy look for new players

Glenorchy are looking for players to join them for the forthcoming season shinty.

Players of all ages and abilities would be welcome.

Anyone interested should contact the club through their Facebook page or call Mary-ann Murray on 07765 576856.

Aberdour recruitment rrive

Aberdour Shinty Club are looking to recruit senior male and female players for the 2018 season. The club has men’s first and second teams along with a women’s side and a women’s development squad.
Based in West Fife, Aberdour attracts locally-grown players but also recruits players from Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkliston and even as far afield as Aberdeen.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Maggie at aberdourshintyclub@gmail.com or send a personal message to the Aberdour Shinty Club FB page.