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Saturday February 23 saw the final pre-season friendlies played and the start of the Women’s Camanachd Association’s shinty season.
Newtonmore 1 Oban Camanachd 3
Oban Camanachd recorded a morale-boosting 3-1 win against Newtonmore at the Eilan, as part of the home side’s annual open day.
Newtonmore were without some regulars who were at teammate David MacLean’s wedding.
Oban Camanachd manager Stephen Sloss was also light, travelling without Scott MacMillan, Chrissie MacMillan, Keith MacMillan and Craig MacDougall. Youngsters Ross Campbell and Lennon Campbell started on the bench.
Newtonmore went in front after two minutes, Iain Robinson bulleting a knee-high shot past keeper Cameron Sutherland after Oban’s Scott McKillop slipped.
Oban Camanachd drew level on 19 minutes after Malcolm Clark launched a hit-in towards the danger area. Andrew MacCuish took the ball down and held off his marker before finding Daniel Madej who slipped the ball home to claim his first Oban Camanachd goal since signing from Oban Celtic.
The Oban side went in front around the half hour mark when Andrew MacCuish floated the ball in from wide on the wing. Connor Howe took a touch to his left before his shot was well saved by Newtonmore keeper Calum Grover. But Daniel MacVicar slotted the rebound home to give the visitors a 2-1 lead at the break.
Oban Camanachd switched Daniel Madej into defence with Scott McKillop coming off and introduced Daniel MacCuish up front.
Oban Camanachd continued to look threatening up front and good work from Aidan MacIntyre set up a chance for Daniel MacCuish but Calum Grover made a great save with his feet.
Daniel MacCuish got a goal just before the hour. MacIntyre was again the provider, sending in a ball from the right which MacCuish crashed high into the net to make it 3-1.
Gavin Stobbart took over from Cameron Sutherland in the Oban goal.
Lennon Campbell took over from Andrew MacCuish, who felt a hamstring tweak, meaning Camanachd’s regular penalty taker was on the sidelines when they were awarded a spot-hit. Daniel MacVicar took responsibility and struck the ball well, but keeper Grover capped a fine performance as he kept the ball out with a combination of foot and stick.
Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon said: ‘Not many teams would have taken a friendly against Newtonmore the week before the season starts but Stephen [Sloss] wanted to test the players against the best. The boys were primed and ready to go and the result was pleasing.’
Oban Celtic 2 Inveraray 4
Oban Celtic took on premiership opposition, going down 4-2 against Inveraray’s first team at Ganavan.
David Martin in the home goal made a couple of good saves before, at the other end, Daniel MacMillan ran through but passed to his brother Ross MacMillan when shooting might have been a better option.
Young Ruaraidh Graham gave Inveraray the lead with a shot from distance which took an awkward bounce on the way in. But Oban Celtic equalised when Ally McKerracher took on a defender and slipped the ball past the keeper.
McKerracher’s goal came against the run of play as Inveraray pinned their opponents back for a 20-minute spell at the end of the half, with Lewis MacNicol scoring twice to give them a 3-1 interval lead.
MacNicol’s second strike was the goal of the match as he turned a defender before smashing the ball into the top corner of the net.
Oban Celtic introduced Michael MacKinnon at the start of the second half which allowed them to push Andy MacDonald up front.
Lewis MacNicol completed his hat-trick before Ally McKerracher got another, this time taking a pass from Andy MacDonald before slotting the ball home.
Referee Des McNulty awarded Oban Celtic a penalty on 75 minutes when Inveraray keeper Scott MacLachlan upended Ross MacMillan as he ran in on goal. However the keeper made amends, making a good save to keep out Ross MacMillan’s spot-hit.
The Oban side dominated the final 15 minutes and had three set-piece opportunities but couldn’t find the net.
Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘It was a really good game and it was a chance for our young boys to see what they need to do to step up to the next level.
‘We had Jamie Forgrieve (16) on the wing today and he didn’t look out of place. Jamie Anderson (16) and Scott Mossman (17) also played well and Jamie Douglas (14) came off the bench and did well against more experienced opponents so the club is in good shape.’
Kilmallie 1 Fort William 0
Kilmallie lifted the BSW Cup with a 1-0 win over Fort William at Canal Parks.
The goal came when Michael Rodger had a shot from around the penalty spot which Fort William keeper Paul MacKay saved with his feet. However, the ball bounced out to the edge of the ‘D’ and Bryan Mackay bundled it into the net.
The Kilmallie board agreed that the gate collection be donated to the Duncan Rodger Memorial Fund which benefits local charities.
Fort William 2 Kilmallie 1
The Fort William second team beat the Kilmallie seconds 2-1 at An Aird.
Jamie Duncan and Duncan Stevenson scored for Fort William, whilst Cam Ross countered for Kilmallie.
Lochside Rovers 2 Ballachulish 2
Lochside drew 2-2 with Ballachulish at Mossfield, Oban.
Lochside included Gary McKerracher and goals were exchanged between Dan McLean, Ballachulish, and Willie Neilson, Lochside, before Ballachulish’s Scott Henderson hit a powerful drive from 30 yards which took a deflection off Craig Easton and ended up in the net.
Lochside’s Lewis Buchanan equalised with a minute to go with a 25-yard shot into the top corner.
Overall, it was probably a fair result in a match well-refereed by Alec MacVicar.
Young Calum Kirsop, who is maturing game by game into a fine player, turned in a man-of-the-match performance for Lochside.
Lochside manager Brian MacCallum said: ‘It was a good test against a strong, well-organised Ballachulish team. We could have finished better early on in the game and made it easier on ourselves, but I’m happy with the overall performance.
‘The young lads stepped in again this week as Ross Campbell and Lennon Campbell were drafted into the first team. We also welcomed back our captain Jordan Kerr from a motocross injury.’
Lochaber 5 Glengarry 2
Lochaber and Glengarry met at Spean Bridge, with Michael Delaney’s side winning 5-2.
Max Campbell scored twice for Lochaber, with Ryan Johnstone, Shaun Nicolson and Findlay MacDonald getting the others.
Nick Dalgety and Raymond Robertson got the Glengarry goals.
Kilmory 1 Taynuilt 2
Taynuilt won 2-1 at Kilmory.
Scott Dempster scored both Taynuilt goals, with James MacArthur replying for Kilmory.
Both teams gave their younger players game time.
Lovat 5 Beauly 0
Lovat beat Beauly 5-0 at Balgate as they marked the official opening of their impressive new pavilion.
Lorne MacKay bagged a brace, with Greg Matheson, Lewis Tawse and Graeme MacMillan getting the others.
Lovat 2 Caberfeidh 1
Lovat and Caberfeidh’s second teams also clashed at Balgate with the hosts winning 2-1 through goals from Raymond Rennie and Cameron MacMillan.
Strathglass 0 Glenurquhart 1
Connor Golabek’s 83rd-minute goal gave Glenurquhart a 1-0 win over Strathglass in the MacDonald Cup at Cannich.
The goal came when Oliver Black quick free hit found Connor Golabek who sent a 22-yard shot high into the net.
Ally MacKintosh was named man of the match.
Strathglass 0 Glenurquhart 1
The Strathglass and Glenurquhart second teams batted it out for the Ali Ban Cup with a late Duncan Fraser goal giving Glenurquhart the victory.
Glenurquhart’s Liam Robertson was named man of the match.
Skye Camanachd 5 Kinlochshiel 4
Skye Camanachd followed up their pre-season win over Lovat by beating Kinlochshiel 5-4 in their derby encounter at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree.
Kinlochshiel took the lead on 12 minutes when John MacRae brought down Duncan ‘DA’ MacRae’s long ball from the left. MacRae got a shot in from the edge of the ‘D’ and although Skye keeper Ryan Morrison got a foot to the ball, he couldn’t keep it out.
Kinlochshiel introduced Keith MacRae for youngster Martin MacRae on the half hour and he played for 30 minutes as he works his way back from injury.
Skye levelled when James Pringle’s shot was saved by new Kinlochshiel keeper Stuart MacRae but the former Inverness and Boleskine player could do nothing to prevent Jordan Murchison turning home the re-bound.
Skye keeper Ryan Morrison saved a John MacRae penalty which meant the sides went into the break level.
Skye went in front when James Pringle ran onto a ball from Ally MacLeod before cutting inside and finishing low into the net.
Duncan Matheson latched onto a John MacRae flick to make it 2-2 with almost an hour gone.
Skye’s William MacKinnon, who had a great game throughout, held off a challenge before taking the ball to his left and firing across the keeper and into the net to put Skye back in front. Jordan Murchison scored twice more to complete his hat-trick, giving Skye a 5-2 cushion.
And they needed it as John MacRae and Duncan ‘WD’ MacRae pulled goals back but it finished 5-4 to Skye.
Beauly 1 Lochcarron 2
The young Beauly seconds lost 2-1 against Lochcarron in their noon throw-up at Braeview Park.
Finlay MacLennan scored for the hosts, but Gregor Cushnie and Angus Urquhart gave Lochcarron victory.
Kingussie 1 Glasgow Mid Argyll 1
Kingussie and Glasgow Mid Argyll played out a hard-fought friendly at Dunbarry.
Kingussie went in front in the second minute with a goal from Ryan MacWilliam. Calum McLay equalised for Glasgow Mid Argyll late in the first half to make it 1-1 at the break.
It was an entertaining second half, but neither side could find a winner.
Strathspey 3 Newtonmore 0
Strathspey Camanachd beat Newtonmore’s second team 3-0 in their pre-season friendly at Grantown Grammar School.
With some of the Newtonmore seconds having to cover absences in the first team, Strathspey took advantage.
Connor Aubrey scored for the hosts, whilst John MacKenzie, who had a fine game, netted twice.
Aberdour 3 Glasgow Mid Argyll 1
The Aberdour seconds beat Glasgow Mid Argyll seconds 3-1 at Silver sands.
Aberdour, with Roddy MacColl as player/manager this term, resisted the temptation to use any first team players and Mack McKean, Chris Bowerman and Martin Cameron sealed the win.
Angus MacInnes scored for GMA.
WCA fixtures under way
Mowi National Division
Skye Camanachd 1 Badenoch 2
Match of the day was the clash between Skye Camanachd and Badenoch at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree.
These sides took last year’s title race to the final day of the season before Skye took the honours.
Badenoch’s Rona Stewart came closest to breaking the deadlock when she hit the post before Skye took the lead through Lorna MacRae’s low shot.
Kirsty Deans made it 1-1 when she took a touch before crashing home Rona Stewart’s cross from the left.
With just 90 seconds remaining, Badenoch broke forward and Zoe Reid found Kirsty Deans who squeezed the ball low into the corner of the net to clinch a 2-1 win.
Aberdour 1 Lochaber 4
Lochaber got off to a winning start defeating Aberdour 4-1 at Silversands.
Kirsty Delaney grabbed a hat-trick with Natalie MacDonald getting the other. Katie Booth netted for the home side.
Strathspey 4 Glasgow Mid Argyll 5
A last minute goal gave Glasgow Mid Argyll a 5-4 victory over Strathspey at Grantown Grammar School.
Arabella Kennedy, Beth Rodgers, Jade Callum and an own goal counted for Strathspey.
But Christy Doherty’s hat-trick and Shannon Birnie’s double gave GMA the points.
Countdown to the new season
Clubs are making their final preparations ahead of this year’s competitive action.
Kilmallie’s return to shinty’s top flight could hardly be more difficult as they travel to the Eilan to play champions Newtonmore. Steven MacDonald is suspended for the home side.
Oban Camanachd’s opening fixture is at the Winterton against newly- promoted Inveraray.
Manager Stephen Sloss said: ‘We hope to have a full squad available. The pre-season has been good but it’s always difficult to properly gauge when there are so many changes during these games. We want to get off to a winning start.’
Lochaber’s meeting with Caberfeidh at Spean Bridge will mark Michael Delaney’s latest term as manager. Caberfeidh will include Robbie Brindle who has signed from Beauly.
New Kyles Athletic manager Dunky Kerr leads his side out against Kingussie at Tighnabruaich. James Falconer is banned for the visitors.
Lovat and Kinlochshiel clash at Balgate.
Mowi National Division
Oban Celtic open at home to Bute and whilst the islanders had the better of their meetings last season, Celtic will be looking to get their competitive campaign off to a winning start.
Craig MacMillan is banned for the hosts, but new boss Dougie MacIntyre hopes to have Rory Bruce and George MacMillan back.
The Fort William squad travel to Braeview Park to play Beauly. Fort William co-managers Victor Smith and Adam Robertson will be without influential defender James Tangney for the opening part of the season.
Amongst the regional fixtures, Lochside Rovers have home advantage against the Inveraray second team in Brian MacCallum’s first competitive match in charge.
Taynuilt travel to Col Glen and Ballachulish host the Glasgow Mid Argyll colts.
The Oban Celtic second team will be led by Iain MacFarlane and Johnny MacNeil against Kilmory.
Ardnamurchan’s return to league action starts with a trip to Glenorchy.
Glengarry are at Aberdeen, whilst the Kilmallie seconds host their Beauly counterparts.
Oban Celtic captains
Oban Celtic have confirmed their first and second team captains ahead of the new shinty season.
Scotland U21 player Ross MacMillan has been named as first team captain, supported by vice captain Andrew MacDonald.
Robert Gillies skippers the Oban Celtic seconds, whilst youngster John Douglas is vice captain.
Strachur drop out of league and cup
Strachur have informed the Camanachd Association that they have no alternative but to withdraw from league and cup competitions this season.
Chairman Colin Cameron said in a club statement: ‘Following a meeting on Tuesday February 19, the club took the extremely difficult decision to withdraw from league and cup competitions because we could not guarantee enough players every week to field a team.
‘Work will begin shortly, in partnership with the Camanachd Association, to develop structures for the club’s future.’
Strachur returned to league action in 2017 after a 12-month break. They came second in South Division 2 in 2017 and topped the league at the end of last season. Strachur had already indicated they were not in a position to accept promotion to South 1 and had been included in the draft 2019 fixture list. Their absence means the league will go ahead with six teams.
Kinlochshiel enforce helmets
Kinlochshiel agreed a new club policy at their recent annual general meeting which means any player born after January 1 2002 must wear a Camanachd Association approved helmet when playing for the club.
Kinlochshiel Ladies introduced the policy when they joined Mowi North Division 2 at the start of last season.