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‘Beast from the East’ winter weather wreaked havoc with the shinty fixtures on the opening day of the 2018 season, with only one match going ahead last Saturday.
Marine Harvest Premiership
Marine Harvest champions Kinlochshiel took advantage of their title rivals inactivity when they scored four second half goals to see off Glenurquhart at Kirkton.
Kinlochshiel’s bid for a second successive title only got under way after referee Deek Cameron had run the rule over the hard surface but he was in no doubt the game should go ahead.
Home manager Johnston Gill was without Oliver MacRae and Scott MacLean who are both abroad. Donald Nixon missed the pre-season for the same reason but he came straight into the starting line-up for this one. Ally Nixon started in place of Oliver MacRae in attack, whilst Duncan MacRae, Martin MacRae and Andrew MacKenzie made up a young Kinlochshiel bench.
Iain MacLeod’s Glenurquhart side were the only team to record a league win against Kinlochshiel during the west coast side’s 2017 title winning season. MacLeod was without the influential John Barr, who has just had an operation on a troublesome injury, whilst Andrew Corrigan, Connor Golabeck and the suspended Lachie Smith were notable absentees. Injury also ruled out James Hurwood, Euan Lloyd and Calum Smith. Ally MacKintosh started at full back and Michael Fraser at buckshee back. John Peteranna made a first senior start at wing back and young Finlay Robertson completed the back four.
Kinlochshiel played down the slope in the first half and Keith MacRae’s shot from wide on the left flashed across the face of the goal in the opening minutes.
Glenurquhart responded and a surging Fraser Heath run ended with a shot from the buckshee forward. Keeper Scott Kennedy saved with his legs and Mark MacDonald put the re-bound out for a corner.
Stuart MacKintosh showed that he is back to his best following injury when he made an outstanding save to deny Keith MacRae. MacRae struck the ball well from the Kinlochshiel left and it was heading for the net, high over the goalie’s left shoulder. However, MacKintosh showed great reactions, stretching to turn the ball away with his caman for a corner on the Kinlochshiel right. Some nice passing from the home side ended with a Jordan Fraser attempt which went past the keeper’s right post.
More good pass and move shinty from Kinlochshiel created a chance for John MacRae but his effort took a deflection and went out for another corner.
Glenurquhart full centre David MacLennan sent a dangerous ball into the Kinlochshiel goalmouth and keeper Kennedy went down on his knees to guard his right post and the ball bounced just wide as the contest approached the 30 minute mark.
Another great save from Stuart MacKintosh, with his club high by his right post, kept out a John MacRae strike from the left.
A Finlay MacRae ball into the ‘D’ bounced on the firm surface but MacKintosh got his body behind it and the corner count continued to rise.
The flurries of snow became more frequent on what was a bitterly cold day. Glenurquhart forward Bradley Cameron had to come off for treatment to a leg muscle injury and was replaced by Cairn Urquhart.
Ally Nixon cracked a shot into the side-netting, to the keeper’s right, as the hosts continued to try to break the deadlock. Nixon then sent a bouncing shot across the goal, this time from the right, with six first half minutes remaining.
There was some late pressure from Glenurquhart as the half drew to a close and a shot from full forward James MacPherson was stopped with his legs by Scott Kennedy. As the re-bound rose in the air, Kennedy slapped the ball away for a corner.
It was the last action of the first half, but Kinlochshiel returned on the offensive from the re-start and were awarded a penalty within the opening minute of the second period when referee Deek Cameron penalised a ‘kick’ inside the ‘D’. The normally reliable Jordan Fraser stepped up but blasted the spot hit well wide of the junction between post and bar to the keeper’s right.
Ally Nixon passed up a chance when he failed to properly connect with a ball from the right after good combination play from Jordan Fraser and John MacRae.
The Kinlochshiel centre line of Donald Nixon, Finlay MacRae and Duncan ‘DA’ MacRae, with the latter playing in trainers, were providing plenty ball for the home forwards and it seemed only a matter of time before they would break Glenurquhart’s resistance.
The crucial goal came on 53 minutes as strong play from John MacRae around the penalty spot saw him hold the ball and pick out Jordan Fraser. This time Fraser made no mistake, despatching the ball low and hard into the net, beating the keeper on his right side.
Glenurquhart suffered a blow on 64 minutes when David MacLennan had to limp off with a knee problem. Eddie Tembo moved from wing centre to full centre.
Kinlochshiel went back on the attack and Stuart MacKintosh saved well at his right post from John MacRae midway through the half. The referee had a calming word with Ally MacKintosh after his swing caught John MacRae on the back of the legs.
Ali Nixon was next to test the Glenurquhart goalie but MacKintosh made another stop, low by his left post.
MacKintosh was beaten on 71 minutes, though, as Ali Nixon was rewarded for his efforts, steering the ball low through a crowded goal area and into the net to make it 2-0.
A rare Glenurquhart attack saw Cairn Urquhart force a fine Scott Kennedy save with a shot from well out on the left. The keeper turned the ball away for a corner with his stick.
Play switched back to the other end when Keith MacRae raced for a ball on the Kinlochshiel left. With Ally MacKintosh closing him down, MacRae fired goalwards. Stuart MacKintosh dived low to his left to turn the ball away although it might have being going wide.
Donald Nixon was next to try his luck as he disposed his marker but his shot flew over the junction between bar and post.
Kinlochshiel added a third on 81 minutes. Jordan Fraser’s shot came off the inside of the post but Keith MacRae turned the re-bound home with the visitors claiming for offside.
Stuart MacKintosh used his body to block a Jordan Fraser shot after good play from Keith MacRae and the ‘Reds’ had to settle for another corner.
Kinlochshiel’s Scotland forward Keith MacRae, who hit the net last season more times than a suicidal salmon, got his second with five minutes remaining. This was the goal of the game and came when a long, high diagonal ball from midfield bounced on the Kinlochshiel left and Keith MacRae smashed a shot on the half-volley, with his spectacular effort beating the keeper under his crossbar to make it 4-0.
Keith MacRae and John MacRae were immediately replaced up front by youngsters Martin MacRae and Duncan MacRae.
The game’s last action saw Stuart MacKintosh save twice in quick succession to prevent Finlay MacRae adding his name to the score-sheet.
Kinlochshiel ended a good afternoon’s work with two points, four goals and a clean sheet. Their only concern emerged later. Full back Paul MacRae suffered a blow to the elbow midway through the second half but was able to continue after treatment.
News broke after the match though that a hospital visit and subsequent operation will now keep him sidelined for a period of time.
Glenurquhart’s season won’t be defined by this game. It’s a season where they will look to bring on a number of their younger players and Stuart MacKintosh’s return from injury is a major plus, whilst they’ll be stronger for the return of Andrew Corrigan, Connor Golabeck and Lachie Smith.
Oban Camanachd gave their Mossfield pitch every chance to be playable ahead of their meeting with newly-promoted Skye Camanachd but a Saturday morning pitch inspection led to a call-off.
The other top flight fixtures fell foul of the weather on Friday as Kingussie’s meeting with Caberfeidh at The Dell, Lovat’s match against Newtonmore at Balgate and the clash between Lochaber and Kyles Athletic at Spean Bridge were all postponed.
Marine Harvest National Division
On Saturday morning, the only Marine Harvest National Division match that had a chance of going ahead was the clash between Kilmallie and Oban Celtic at Canal Parks. This contest was also called off though because of a frozen pitch and reversing the game to Mossfield wasn’t an option.
The games between Fort William and Beauly at An Aird, Glasgow Mid Argyll and Inveraray at Yoker and Inverness and Strathglass at The Bught Park were all postponed.
Marine Harvest North Division 1
The meeting between the Glenurquhart and Fort William second teams at Blairbeg was the last in the division to be postponed.
There was also disappointment for champions Newtonmore reserves as their match against Aberdeen University was postponed as The Eilan was unplayable. Glengarry’s game against the Kingussie colts at Craigard and Skye Camanachd’s reserve team derby against Kinlochshiel at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree, were both also postponed due to unplayable pitches.
Marine Harvest South Division 1
Lochside Rovers were to open the defence of their Marine Harvest South Division 1 title against Taynuilt at Taynuilt Sports Field. It was the last South 1 game to fall victim to the weather when it was called off on Saturday morning.
Earlier, the division’s remaining games failed pitch inspections so the Inveraray seconds against Ballachulish at The Winterton, Aberdour and Bute at Silversands, Kilmory and the Kyles Athletic colts at MacRae Park and Tayforth and Col Glen at Levenhall Links will all be rescheduled.
Marine Harvest North Division 2
The entire Marine Harvest North Division 2 programme was wiped out.
Unplayable pitches led to the postponements of the games between the Lochaber and Beauly second teams at Braeview Park, Strathspey Camanachd and the Kilmallie reserves at Grantown Grammar School, the Strathglass and Inverness second teams at Cannich, Boleskine and Lochcarron at Farr and the Caberfeidh colts against Lewis Camanachd at Castle Leod.
Marine Harvest South Division 2
The Oban Celtic second team’s return to league action will have to wait as their game against the Bute second team will be re-scheduled.
Strachurmore was unplayable so Strachur’s clash with the Glasgow Mid Argyll second team was postponed, whilst travel difficulties led to Glenorchy’s match against the Aberdour second team at Mart Park being called off.
Winter weather also affected the Women’s Camanachd Association fixtures, with only one match going ahead.
In Marine Harvest North Division 2, Kinlochshiel Ladies, managed by former Kinlochshiel first team manager Colin Fraser, copied the club’s men’s senior side by being the only team to play as they welcomed Strathglass to the Plockton High School astro pitch.
This was the fledgling Kinlochshiel side’s first competitive outing and they competed well, despite going down 5-0. Freya Strachan scored twice, whilst Eleanor Mann, Cassie Dorrian and Mattie Jones got the others to give Strathglass victory.
In the same division, the games between the Skye Camanachd seconds and Inverness at Pairc nan Laoch, Glengarry and Glenurquhart at Craigard and Lovat and the Lochaber seconds at Balgate were postponed.
In Marine Harvest South Division 2, the meetings between Dunadd and Cowal and Bute, the Glasgow Mid Argyll seconds and Tayforth and Oban Lorn and Ardnamurchan seconds were all postponed.
This week’s premiership action
Oban Camanachd hope to get their first competitive action of the new season when they travel to Blairbeg to play Glenurquhart in the Marine Harvest Premiership on Saturday March 10.
Glenurquhart boss Iain MacLeod will do a fitness check on David MacLennan who suffered a knee injury in the defeat to Kinlochshiel and John Barr is definitely out. Oban Camanachd manager Ian Hay will welcome Garry Lord back, but Scott MacMillan is suspended and Scott McKillop is injured.
Caberfeidh should have Jamie MacIntosh fit for Kinlochshiel’s visit to Castle Leod. Oliver MacRae is still out for Kinlochshiel.
Skye host Lovat at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree. Skye’s Jordan Murchison, who would have missed the postponed game against Oban Camanachd, will be back, whilst Lovat’s Callum Cruden serves the final game of a three-match suspension which dates back to his red card in the Camanachd Cup Final.
Newtonmore will be without the banned Glen MacKintosh when Lochaber visit The Eilan. Ally MacDonald should replace Callum MacDonald in the Lochaber goal, whilst Brian MacDonald is banned.
New signings Neil MacVicar for Kyles and Sandy Elrick for Kingussie could make their competitive debuts when Kyles Athletic meet Kingussie. Sandy MacKenzie is banned for Kyles, whilst Kingussie’s Fraser Munro should make his competitive comeback.
Travis Perkins national first shinty festivals
The Travis Perkins National P5 (& under) and P7 (& under) First Shinty Festivals were due to take place in Fort William on Saturday March 3.
However, with terrible travel conditions throughout the country, the event was postponed and has been rescheduled for Saturday March 17.
Two more Camanachd Association directors
The Camanachd Association co-opted two new members – Lyndsay Bradley from Ardnamurchan and John Finlayson from Skye – onto its board at a meeting in January.
Lyndsay Bradley has been a head teacher in Ardnamurchan for the past 11 years. She initially got involved with youth shinty before moving into the ladies game. Lyndsay is now coach and manager of the Ardnamurchan primary school teams and the three ladies teams in Ardnamurchan.
She also plays in goal for the Ardnamurchan first team which plays in Marine Harvest National Division 1. Lyndsay also continues to help out with the Ardnamurchan U14 and U17s.
Lyndsay Bradley was named Marine Harvest South Division 2 Coach of the Year at the 2017 Annual Marine Harvest Awards, having being named Marine Harvest Development Coach of the Year and Marine Harvest Volunteer of the Year 12 months earlier.
Lyndsay added: ‘I’m delighted to have been asked to join the Camanachd Association board and hope my experience in women’s and youth shinty, especially sustaining numbers and opportunities in our remote area, will be of help to the board. I’m looking forward to learning more about how the Camanachd Association works.’
John Finlayson, a Highland councillor, was a member of the Skye Camanachd squad that won the Camanachd Cup in 1990. He played shinty for Skye Camanachd from the age of 15 and for Glasgow University for five years. John went on to manage Skye Camanachd’s first team in the 1992/3 and the 1993/4 seasons.
John Finlayson said: ‘I was a head teacher for 30 years and in all my schools, I promoted shinty and supported parents and community members to take ownership of shinty coaching for primary school aged pupils.
This approach latterly led to sustainable structures being put in place, led by parents and community members, and during my time at my last school, Portree primary, this community ethos enabled the school to win the MacKay Cup and the National First Shinty Trophy on several occasions. As someone who sees shinty as a community-based sport which offers youngsters a pathway into senior sport and the chance to play at a national level, I am keen to give something back to a sport that gave me so many opportunities and enabled me to make numerous friends across all parts of Scotland. Shinty and its history have the potential to offer people of all ages enjoyment and hopefully, in some small way, I can contribute to its development.’
Camanachd Association president Keith Loades said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome John and Lyndsay to the board. They both bring a huge amount of experience and are sure to add value to an already experienced board.’