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Storm Freya ensured the opening day of the new shinty season didn’t go as planned on Saturday March 2.
Inveraray v Oban Camanachd – abandoned
Oban Camanachd’s new season got off to a false start as their match against newly-promoted Inveraray at the Winterton was abandoned early in the second half.
This was Stephen Sloss’ first competitive match as Oban Camanachd manager. He was without Aidan MacIntyre, who was was working, so Scott MacMillan came in on the wing. Chrissie MacMillan was banned.
Ruaraidh Graham remains in charge at Inveraray who won promotion from the National Division at the end of last season.
With the weather deteriorating, the teams had to be cautious, even during the warm up, as the pitch was already cutting up.
Connor Howe and Daniel Madej had chances for Oban Camanachd, as did Andrew MacCuish at the start of the second half.
The closest Inveraray came was a Fraser Watt shot from a central position which keeper Cameron Sutherland saved with his chest before clearing for a corner.
After 55 minutes, with the match still scoreless, referee Robert Baxter brought the game to an end.
Speaking after the match, referee Robert Baxter said: ‘I called the game off because of the ground conditions. The pitch was cutting up and boys were sliding in and, basically, I feared for their safety. If the pitch had held up, the game would have continued but it was cutting up badly.’
Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon added: ‘The pitch was cutting up and the ball was sticking on the surface which was making it difficult to play so there were no complaints and everyone accepted the referee’s decision.’
Newtonmore 0 Kilmallie 2
Newly-promoted Kilmallie were given the most difficult task on their return to shinty’s top flight as they travelled to play champions Newtonmore at the Eilan.
Newtonmore’s Steven MacDonald missed out as he completed a two-match suspension carried forward from last season.
This was a first competitive match in charge for new Kilmallie boss John Stewart and he was without Calum MacDougall who was working.
John was also forced to make a late change as Martin Stewart pulled out injured in the warm up, so 16-year-old Cam Clark started at wing back against young Iain Robinson and was excellent throughout.
Kilmallie keeper Shane Gillies made a couple of early saves with his feet as Newtonmore looked to make the breakthrough.
However, the opening goal came at the other end. Daniel Stewart initially played the ball in from the right. The Newtonmore defence failed to deal with the danger and Stewart continued his run across the box, taking a touch before beating keeper Kenny Ross at his right post to make it 1-0 with 30 minutes played.
It got even better for the Canal Parks side when captain Liam MacDonald doubled their lead with just 60 first half seconds remaining. Forwards Liam MacDonald and Craig MacIsaac combined well before Michael Rodger touched the ball to the on-rushing Liam MacDonald who cracked the ball high into the top corner of the net to make it 2-0.
Kilmallie played well all over the pitch and their defence kept keeper Shane Gillies protected, although he did have to make saves one-on-one against Evan Menzies, Glen MacKintosh and Iain Robertson.
Newtonmore came close to pulling a goal back near the end but Shane Gillies made a great save, tipping a deflected shot over the bar with his caman.
After the game, Kilmallie boss John Stewart said: ‘I’m delighted. Every single Kilmallie player was outstanding. Although they were all brilliant, our man of the match was Innes Blackhall at full centre against Jamie Robinson. He ran himself into the ground and was up and down that park all day. It’s only two points though and we can’t get carried away but we will take huge confidence in beating Newtonmore after running them close in the 2017 MacTavish final, before losing 3-2, and the 2018 Camanachd semi-final, only being beaten on penalties after extra-time. The result gives us the belief for the season now. It’s a great start.’
Lovat 5 Kinlochshiel 0
Lovat got their season off to a spectacular start, beating Kinlochshiel 5-0 at Balgate.
Lovat’s Callum Cruden was suspended, whilst Ryan Ferguson was unavailable. There was a starting place at wing forward for Fraser Heath who joined the club from Glenurquhart in the close season.
Kinlochshiel had Stuart MacRae in goal, taking over from Scott Kennedy who retired at the end of last season.
Marc MacLachlan got the opener on 25 minutes when he gathered possession following a poor goal-hit which Paul MacRae tried to clear. MacLachlan played a one-two with Greg Matheson, running onto the return ball on the right then diving full stretch to touch the ball past the on-rushing keeper.
The hosts added a second following a flowing move a couple of minutes later. Greg Matheson’s ball forward was deflected high in the air and Marc MacLachlan stretched to flick the dropping ball over his head and past the keeper from just inside the ‘D’.
MacLachlan completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time. Lewis Tawse took down a loose clearance and found Greg Matheson who shot from 30 yards. Keeper MacRae stopped the ball with his feet but MacLachlan was first onto the re-bound and he tucked the ball away to give Lovat a 3-0 interval lead.
Calum MacAulay, who came off the bench to replace the injured Graeme MacMillan in the first half, had to be substituted on 50 minutes. Chris Johnstone took over.
Another Lovat reshuffle on 59 minutes saw Martin Mainland replaced by Thomas Fraser, with Fraser Heath going to buckshee back.
Greg Matheson saw a powerful shot well saved by Stuart MacRae on 61 minutes before Matheson eventually added his name to the scoresheet on 65 minutes. A superb cross from Thomas Fraser, who won possession out on the left touchline, was perfectly placed to go over Marc MacLachlan and Paul MacRae and drop for Greg Matheson at the right of the ‘D’ and Matheson crashed the ball low into the net.
Marc MacLachlan rounded off a great afternoon’s work with eight minutes remaining. Lorne MacKay chipped the ball forward from the middle of the park and Marc MacLachlan capitalised on hesitancy in the Kinlochshiel defence to win the possession ahead of Paul MacRae and he turned inside before knocking the ball low into the net from close range.
Lovat played well and took their chances although Kinlochshiel will rue some defensive lapses. Lovat’s Daniel Grieve looked unbeatable at full back, Lorne MacKay was effective in midfield and there was always a threat up front where four-goal Marc MacLachlan grabbed the headlines.
Lochaber v Caberfeidh -abandoned
Lochaber’s meeting with Caberfeidh at Spean Bridge fell foul of the weather.
With Michael Delaney back in charge at Lochaber, play started but it wasn’t long before referee Graham Cameron brought proceedings to an early end.
Kyles Athletic v Kingussie – postponed
The match between Kyles Athletic and Kingussie was postponed by referee David Mitchell just ahead of throw-up as the field at Tighnabruaich succumbed to pre-match rain.
Mowi National Division
Oban Celtic v Bute – abandoned
The game between Oban Celtic and Bute at Mossfield was abandoned after an hour.
New Oban Celtic boss Dougie MacIntyre included captain Ross MacMillan who had recovered from a knock suffered in the pre-season meeting with Inveraray.
Bute, back in shinty’s second tier, had some early pressure before Oban Celtic came more into it.
Oban Celtic had a chance midway through the half when Ross MacMillan shot from a tight angle. The ball beat the keeper but stuck on the goal line in the heavy conditions.
The hosts suffered a blow 10 minutes before the break when centre Neil Carmichael suffered an accidental blow to the hand resulting in a dislocated thumb and he must be a doubt for this week’s match at Fort William. Lee Askew came off the bench to join the attack, with Ally McKerracher going to the middle of the park.
Neither keeper had any significant saves to make with moves breaking down in front of goal as the ball held up on the surface.
With players slipping and sliding and holding back to prevent injuring an opponent, referee Iain Kennedy halted proceedings after an hour with the contest still scoreless.
Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘The pitch looked good in the morning. However, the heavens opened around 12.30pm. Puddles started to appear halfway through the first half and, with the wind rising and the rain not letting up, referee Iain Kennedy, who spoke to both managers at half-time, had no option but to call the game off.’
Beauly 4 Fort William 5
Fort William edged out Beauly by the odd goal in nine after an exciting contest at Braeview Park.
Beauly boss Alan MacRae started with Josh Grant in goal after sharing the pre-season goalkeeping duties between Grant and MacKay Murray.
Fort William co-managers Victor Smith and Adam Robertson travelled without the injured James Tangney and the suspended Arran MacPhee.
The afternoon started with a slight breeze but, by the end of the first half, the wind had picked up and rain started.
The pitch held up well and the small band of supporters who braved the elements were treated to a thrilling game of end-to-end shinty.
Beauly started well and took the lead after four minutes when Jack MacDonald sent the ball through to youngster Euan MacCormick who unleashed a hard, low shot past Fort William keeper Paul MacKay at his right-hand post.
Fort William levelled on 16 minutes when Calum Shepherd played the ball into the danger area and Jack Fraser touched it onto Lewis Morrison who slammed the ball home.
Fort William’s JD MacMaster was first to find his name in referee John Angus Gillies’ book for a reckless swing midway through the first half.
Jack MacDonald looked menacing in the home forward line, giving the Fort William defence a torrid time, and he put his side back in front on 25 minutes when he took a diagonal pass from Sean Stewart before firing the ball into the top of the net.
Jack Fraser was Fort William’s danger man and he peeled away from marker David Fraser on 32 minutes before hitting a low drive into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-2.
It looked as if Fort William would lead at the break when an unmarked Alexander MacMillan found space on the ‘D’ and he poked the ball past the keeper at this right-hand post to make it 3-2.
Beauly forced a late corner, however, and Sean Stewart played a great ball into the goal area where Jack MacDonald took it first time, driving it past the keeper to make it 3-3 at the end of a first half which was played a good tempo.
Beauly claimed for a penalty when Paul MacKay caught Daniel Lamont, who had run into the ‘D’, as he cleared for a corner but referee Gillies waved away their claims.
Fort William’s Jack Fraser scored the goal of the match on 69 minutes. After getting on the end of a corner from the left, 18 yards from goal, he arrowed a fierce shot into the top corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance.
The game continued to swing from one goal area to another with Beauly bagging the equaliser on 77 minutes. Jack MacDonald had gone close on more than one occasion before Euan MacCormick found Sean Stewart on the right and turned his marker before shooting into the bottom corner of the net to make it 4-4.
It only took Fort William a couple of minutes to get their noses back in front. Jack Fraser played a pass through to Lewis Morrison who struck the ball first time to claim his second goal of the afternoon which proved to be the winner.
Morrison almost claimed a hat-trick on 82 minutes when his strike shaved the post.
Both teams are to be commended for delivering a good game of shinty in trying conditions.
Calum Shepherd and Calum Morrison had a good battle in the middle of the park, whist Angus Renwick was commanding at buckshee back for Beauly.
Jack MacDonald was best for Beauly, whilst Lachie Shaw and Jack Fraser shone for Fort William.
Glenurquhart 3 Strathglass 0
New Glenurquhart co-managers Stuart MacKintosh and Eddie Tembo got off to a winning start as their side were 3-0 derby winners against Strathglass at Blairbeg.
This was a second successive Saturday meeting between the sides, with Glenurquhart winning 1-0 in their MacDonald Cup match at Cannich the previous weekend.
Ewan Brady got the opener for Glenurquhart and Andrew Corrigan made it 2-0 before the break.
Ewan Brady marked his return to competitive action with his second and Glenurquhart’s third goal in the second half.
Skye Camanachd v Glasgow Mid Argyll -postponed
Title hopefuls Skye Camanachd and Glasgow Mid Argyll were to meet in a 3pm throw-up at Pairc nan Loach, Portree.
However, referee Deek Cameron had no option but to call the game off just over an hour before throw-up as heavy rain in the lead up to the match left the field unplayable.
Mowi North Division 1
Fort William v Newtonmore – abandoned
Champions Newtonmore reserves were to begin another title defence at An Aird against the Fort William seconds who finished second last season.
However, the contest only lasted 10 minutes before referee Des McNulty ruled the pitch unplayable.
Aberdeen University 0 Glengarry 7
Glengarry made a strong start to the season, overcoming Aberdeen University 7-0 at Balgownie.
The home side only had 11 players available and an on-form Glengarry side took full advantage.
Raymond Robertson scored on 15 and 17 minutes to give the visitors early control.
Nick Dalgety on 33 minutes and Andrew Gilchrist a minute later made it 4-0 at the break.
Nick Dalgety went on to complete his hat-trick with goals on 48 and 62 minutes, whilst Raymond Robertson notched his treble with a 74 minute strike.
Elsewhere in the league, the Caberfeidh colts beat Skye Camanachd colts 5-1 at Castle Leod, with James MacLeod getting a hat-trick.
The Kingussie seconds came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against the Glenurquhart seconds at Blairbeg, whilst Cameron MacMillan and Raymond Rennie both scored four times as the Lovat reserves beat Kinlochshiel reserves 9-2 at Kirkton.
Mowi South Division 1
Lochside Rovers v Inveraray – abandoned
There was frustration for new Lochside Rovers manager Brian MacCallum as his team’s match against the Inveraray second team at Ganavan was postponed with the Oban side leading 5-0.
MacCallum fielded a strong side including keeper Gavin Stobbart, Gary McKerracher in defence, Aidan MacIntyre at centre and Willie Neilson up front.
Andrew McMurdo took charge of Inveraray. He was without last year’s top goal scorer John Mackenzie, but former Kilmallie player Peter McIntyre returned for a second spell with the club.
Inveraray started brightly with Steven Cameron forcing a good save from Lochside keeper Stobbart.
Young Coll Mackay and Campbell Watt’s running were causing Lochside’s defence problems in the early stages. However Lochside came into the game and once Lennon Campbell scored the opener on 14 minutes, they took a grip of the game.
Lewis Buchanan added a second a couple of minutes later and Willie Neilson went on to make it 4-0 with goals on 20 and 27 minutes. His strike on the angle was the pick of the afternoon’s goals.
Lewis Buchanan got his second on 35 minutes and Lochside led 5-0 at the break.
Young Gregor Mather in the Inveraray goals was in inspired form, preventing Lochside from adding to their tally.
Referee Euan MacDonald consulted both managers at half-time as the Ganavan pitch was cutting up and puddles were appearing so the sensible decision to abandon the game was taken.
Aberdour 4 Tayforth 4
A Neil Arnott inspired Tayforth side came from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Aberdour at Silversands.
Niall MacPhee’s own goal after a couple of minutes and David McDougall on 29 minutes had the hosts 2-0 ahead.
Aberdour’s Craig Grant was sent off by referee Ross Brown after 36 minutes but they added to their tally when David MacKenzie scored on 40 minutes to make it 3-0 at the break.
When Angus Thorburn added a fourth after 52 minutes, Aberdour looked good for the points.
However, Neil Arnott got the visitors back into the match on 65 minutes and the goal seemed to unnerve Aberdour.
Arnott, who joined the club from Lochcarron in the close season, earned Tayforth a point with three more strikes on 74, 83 and 87 minutes.
Ballachulish 1 Inveraray 0
Duncan MacDonald scored the only goal of the game, 10 minutes into the second half, as Ballachulish beat newly-promoted Glasgow Mid Argyll second team 1-0 in monsoon conditions at the Jubilee Park.
Col Glen v Taynuilt – postponed
The match between Col Glen and Taynuilt at Glendaruel was postponed.
Mowi North Division 2
Kilmallie v Beauly – postponed
The game between the Kilmallie colts and the Beauly colts was postponed as Canal Parks was waterlogged.
Inverness 2 Boleskine 2
The Inverness seconds and Boleskine drew 2-2 at Bught Park.
Andy Reid and Michael Pirrie scored for the hosts, with Steve Bone and James Anderson replying.
Lochcarron 7 Lewis Camanachd 1
Lochcarron were too strong for Lewis Camanachd, winning 7-1 at Battery Park.
Gregor Cushnie scored five times on his return from Aberdeen University, whilst Crisdean Finlayson got the other two.
Scott MacLeod countered for Lewis.
This was Ewan Neilson’s first match as a referee.
Strathglass 1 Strathspey Camanachd 7
Strathspey were too strong for the Strathglass second team, winning 7-1 at Cannich.
Struan Ross on two and six minutes got the visitors off to a great start.
Former Newtonmore player John MacKenzie doubled their lead with a quick-fire brace on 16 and 18 minutes.
Raymond Fraser pulled a goal back on 22 minutes but Struan Ross completed his hat-trick four minutes before the break to make it 5-1.
Late goals from Xander Ross on 81 and Conor Aubrey on 85 minutes made it 7-1.
Mowi South Div 2
Kilmory 5 Oban Celtic 0
Kilmory beat the Oban Celtic second team 5-0 in their 2pm throw-up at MacRae Park.
The match was played on a heavy pitch and conditions were terrible for both teams.
Alister MacArthur scored the only goal of the first half on 15 minutes and got a second four minutes into the second half.
Kilmory’s more experienced players made the difference and they put gloss on the win as Alex Cunningham on 78 minutes, Hal Jones on 83 minutes and Adam Johnston a minute from time rounded off the 5-0 win.
Glenorchy 7 Ardnamurchan 0
Ardnamurchan, back in the league again, went down 7-0 against Glenorchy at Mart Park.
Conor Sartain grabbed a hat-trick with goals on 35, 49 and 65 minutes, whilst Kieran MacKay did likewise with strikes on 55, 70 and 74 minutes.
Ben MacFarlane-Barrow got Glenorchy’s other on 62 minutes.
The Women’s Camanachd Association focus was on the regional leagues.
Mowi North Division 2
Skye Camanachd 2 Kinlochshiel 6
Kinlochshiel beat the Skye second team 6-2 in Portree.
Abby MacLean scored both home goals but four-goal Eilidh MacInnes and strikes from Alaina MacLennan and Sandra MacRae gave Kinlochshiel victory.
Inverness 2 Lovat 6
Fiona Urquhart bagged all six goals as Lovat won 6-2 in Inverness.
Glengarry v Fort William – postponed
The match between Glengarry and Fort William was postponed.
Strathglass v Lochaber – postponed
The clash between Strathglass and the Lochaber second team was postponed.
Mowi South Division 2
Oban Lorn 2 Cowal and Bute 1
The game between Oban Lorn and Cowal and Bute was switched to Mossfield.
Caroline Smith scored twice to give the Oban side victory, cancelling out Charmaine Love’s effort.
Tayforth 2 Ardnamurchan 5
Hannah MacDonald scored four times as the Ardnamurchan colts opened their season with a 5-2 win at Tayforth.
Rebekah Connolly got the other.