Camanachd Cup Final washed out

Andrew MacCuish (Oban) in front of Andy Mackintosh (N’more). Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final - Newtonmore v Oban Camanachd - played at An Aird, Fort William.

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Newtonmore and Oban Camanachd will have to do it all over again this Saturday for the right to claim shinty’s greatest prize after terrible weather conditions forced the abandonment of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final, whilst Kingussie draw level on points with Mowi Premiership leaders Lovat following the shinty action on Saturday September 14.

Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final

Newtonmore A
Oban Camanachd A

Newtonmore and Oban Camanachd will have to do it all over again this Saturday after terrible weather conditions forced the abandonment of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup at An Aird, Fort William.

Newtonmore were trying to win the trophy for the fourth time in a row, whilst Oban Camanachd looked to win shinty’s blue riband event for the fourth time in their history. The warning signs were there as the wet weather over the previous 24 hours left surface water which the Fort William ground staff battled manfully to clear but which also raised early speculation the final might not start.

Newtonmore got by Lovat, after a replay, Skye Camanachd and Caberfeidh on their way to the final with Iain Robinson scoring in all three rounds. Oban Camanachd accounted for Glenurquhart, Kinlochshiel and Kyles Athletic with Andrew MacCuish netting in every round.

The teams and officials were led onto the field in monsoon conditions by Lochaber Pipe Band before being introduced to George Fraser from sponsors Tulloch Homes, Camanachd Association president Keith Loades and Camanachd Cup Ambassador Gary Innes.

Newtonmore manager Paul John MacKintosh had injury concerns around Michael Russell and Glen MacKintosh. Russell started and although MacKintosh, who scored the only goal of the game between the sides in the 2016 final, was included, he was on the bench.

Oban Camanachd boss Stephen Sloss was without the suspended Scott MacMillan, whilst injury continued to rule out Willie Neilson. Captain Daniel Cameron was in defence with Malcolm Clark starting in attack. Stephen Sloss said his line-up was influenced by the conditions, going for his more senior players, with Keith MacMillan playing at wing centre whilst Gary McKerracher was given the full forward slot.

The howling wind was such that it was clear from the outset it would be a game of two halves.

Oban Camanachd won the toss and chose to start with the strong wind in their favour, playing away from the town end.

Newtonmore forced an early corner but it was Oban Camanachd who created the first shot at goal on six minutes when Malcolm Clark held off his marker on the left and steadied himself before shooting. Newtonmore keeper Kenny Ross did well to sweep the skidding, low shot away to safety.

Splashes on the surface were evident during the early exchanges and there was an indication of what was to come on 10 minutes when Newtonmore’s Drew MacDonald did well to keep the ball in play on the left of midfield, driving it up the line, however a combination of his momentum and the wet surface meant he slid along the ground into the railings at the side of the pitch and required treatment before continuing.

Oban Camanachd’s Keith MacMillan takes a tumble after a challenge from Newtonmore’s Fraser Mackintosh.

Despite playing into the full force of the wind, Newtonmore were creating opportunities and, following Steven Macdonald’s free-hit from the left of midfield, a turn and shot from skipper Evan Menzies on 13 minutes went wide of target.

Gary McKerracher was proving a handful for the Newtonmore defence, winning two set-piece chances in quick succession but the Oban side didn’t take advantage of either opportunity.

The weather was worsening with the surface getting more and more difficult as the game went on and, as the midway point of the first half approached, Newtonmore knew they were getting closer to the turnaround when the elements would be in their favour.

The first substitution was made on 28 minutes when Daniel MacVicar replaced Daniel MacCuish in the Oban Camanachd attack.

Seconds later, it took a brilliant challenge from Daniel Madej to foil Evan Menzies to the right of the ‘D’. Menzies had latched onto a wonderfully measured ball forward from midfield from Fraser MacKintosh and it took a fine Madej block to prevent Menzies hitting the target.

Menzies regained possession on the right before being brought down by his marker but the free-hit came to nothing.

Fraser MacKintosh sent a fine effort from the left wide of the far post on the half hour mark after he won possession following Michael Russell’s corner from the right.

Iain Robinson required treatment for a hand injury before Oban Camanachd went back on the attack and Daniel MacVicar tugged a shot wide from a Lorne Dickie free-hit after Malcolm Clark had been impeded.

Steven Macdonald caught team-mate Drew MacDonald on the head with a trailing swing and referee Robert Baxter stopped play for treatment to the head-knock with Iain Robinson racing forward.

An Evan Menzies strike was well-blocked and then cleared over his head by the effective Daniel Madej following another Steven Macdonald free-hit with eight first half minutes remaining.

Water was now lying all over the pitch, especially in front of both technical areas. With five first half minutes remaining, Andy MacKintosh blocked an Andrew MacCuish high shot from the left with MacCuish then hitting the side-netting to the keeper’s left.

Oban Camanachd made a tactical switch with Daniel Cameron going forward late in the half and Malcolm Clark dropping into defence.
With almost a minute’s stoppage time played, referee Robert Baxter brought the first half to a close and whilst Newtonmore would be satisfied in having prevented the Oban side making the elements count, Oban Camanachd would have noted Newtonmore were able to threaten despite playing against the wind and they would look to do the same.

Referee Baxter spoke to both camps at the break, making them aware he would be forced to abandon the match if conditions worsened.

The players made their way back onto the field for the second half and the body language from some suggested they felt matters were becoming farcical.

A couple of minutes after the restart, Daniel Cameron, now back in defence, sent a free-hit forward and Aidan MacIntyre’s ball to the edge of the ‘D’ held up on the wet surface and Malcolm Clark couldn’t take the ball on the run as he surged into the ‘D’. Possession broke to MacIntyre on the right and he hit the side netting to the keeper’s left.

With four second half minutes played, Oban Camanachd’s Garry Lord went to clear his lines but sent a wave of water forward as he connected with the ball and referee Robert Baxter had seen enough, bringing the final to a premature end.

Speaking afterwards, referee Robert Baxter said: ‘We gave it a go but player safety is paramount in these circumstances and the rain was getting a lot heavier. I took the pitch conditions into consideration too. It’s a hard call when it’s the biggest game on the shinty calendar and so many people have travelled here but it’s fairer to both sides that they get to play a rescheduled final in better conditions.’

Referee Robert Baxter explains his decision to abandon the game to the media. Photograph: Neil Paterson.

There were no dissenting voices with Oban Camanachd boss Stephen Sloss holding a similar view: ‘It was getting dangerous out there so it was the correct call. The conditions were horrendous and it was hard for the referee to work out what was a slide and what was a fall. The game probably shouldn’t have started in the first place but, because it’s the Camanachd Cup Final, it was given a go. At least it was 0-0 when it was ended so neither side was ahead so I’ll go with the decision.

‘It’s a situation I’ve never been involved in before. We were training five nights a week in the lead up to the final but you can’t keep that going as it would be too much. We also had two supporters’ buses at the game but I don’t know if we will we get that again this week.

‘There is a bonus in that if any of our younger players had nerves, they won’t find it so daunting this time as they have now been through it. Otherwise, it is difficult to take anything from the game because of the conditions other than we have no new injuries.

‘A lot was made of Newtonmore having the elements in the second half but, in reality, it wasn’t that easy playing with the wind, simply because the ground was so wet which made it difficult to hit the ball. I’ve seen us playing into the wind before and winning the game.

‘The most important thing is, whatever the circumstances, the Camanachd Cup is still up for grabs and we are one of only two teams that can win it.’
Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon, who will miss a trip to the Ayr Gold Cup to be at the rearranged final, described the conditions as ‘horrendous’.

He added: ‘The referee made the correct decision as it could have turned into a bit of a lottery and it was good it was 0-0 at the time. The surface water was a big problem and wind advantage can be exaggerated as you can end up over-hitting the ball. Our preparations ahead of the game will still stand us in good stead so we’ll go again this week.’

Newtonmore boss Paul John MacKintosh said: ‘The referee has responsibility for the safety of all the players so I suppose it’s the correct decision.

‘It’s disappointing for us as conditions weren’t great when we started and we weathered the first half elements, when there was a big wind in Oban’s favour, and there weren’t too many sliding challenges or injuries. We’re gutted as once you’ve started, you want to finish the game but it was the right decision.’

Rearranged Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final details

After the match, and following consultation between both clubs and the Camanachd Association board of directors, came confirmation that the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final has been re-scheduled for this Saturday at An Aird, Fort William, with a 3pm throw-up. Entry will be by donation.

A weather inspection will be carried out at An Aird on Wednesday September 18 to determine if there are any weather risks for the fixture. If the weather forecast has not improved, the match will take place at a neutral venue in Inverness.

A Camanachd Association statement read: ‘Yesterday’s conditions were unprecedented and worsened considerably as the game went on. In celebration of all those that braved the conditions yesterday, the Camanachd Association would like to advise that next Saturday’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final will be free entry for all, with donations at the gate to help cover costs for the rearranged fixture.

‘The Camanachd Association are a not-for-profit organisation led by a board of directors who have volunteered at clubs across the country, played shinty at the highest levels throughout their lives and continue to help the game by leading and giving up their time to support our sport.

‘In appreciation for those that travelled on Saturday September 14, and understanding that those same people will likely wish to support their teams again in this week’s final, the board has agreed to make entry by donation.

‘The board would also like to express their gratitude and appreciation to all the volunteers and our staff who worked so hard to prepare An Aird for Saturday. Volunteers are at the very heart of our sport and what makes it such a special community to be part of.

‘The Under 14 MacMaster Cup Final has also been provisionally scheduled to take place on Saturday 21 September 21 with a noon throw up.’
This means Newtonmore and Oban Camanachd will now meet on three successive Saturdays as they are due to clash at the Eilan in the Mowi Premiership on Saturday September 28.

Oban Camanachd’s Scott MacMillan, whose booking in the Artemis Macaulay Cup Final triggered a two-match suspension, will still be banned for this Saturday’s game, whilst Newtonmore’s Glen MacKintosh has an additional seven days to prove his fitness.

The developments also impact Fort William, who last played in the Liberty British Aluminium Balliemore Cup Final on Saturday August 24, as they have to wait to be presented with the Mowi National Division title as their final league fixture against Glasgow Mid Argyll at An Aird, which had been due to be played this Saturday, has now been put back to Saturday October 12.

GMA were scheduled to play Bute in the Mod Cup on that date.

Mowi Premiership

Lochaber 0
Kyles Athletic 3

Lochaber’s goal difference is such that their Mowi Premiership survival chances are hanging by a thread following their 3-0 defeat to Kyles Athletic in their 11.30am throw-up at Spean Bridge.

There was very heavy rain for a short while ahead of throw-up followed by a good strong, drying wind.

It was the visitors who took the lead on 10 minutes when Roddy Macdonald tapped the ball in at the bottom end after the home defence was carved open.

It was pretty much one-way traffic towards the Lochaber goal at this point.
Kyles were playing some good shinty up front with Robbie MacLeod linking up well with full forward Roddy Macdonald.

The outcome remained in the balance until 15 minutes from time when substitute Ross Macrae scored following a poor clearance from Lochaber keeper Calum MacDonald.

Then, with a couple of minutes remaining, Roddy Macdonald held off his marker as he tried to get a shot in and Ross Macrae nipped in to grab his second from between the penalty spot and the ‘D’.

Tempers frayed towards the end of the match with a number of players involved in a flare-up following an initial clash between Lochaber’s Barry MacDonald and Kyles Athletic’s Conor Kennedy who were yellow-carded by referee David Mitchell.

Kyles didn’t have it all their own way and keeper John Whyte had saves to make.

Lochaber’s Stuart Callison had a great game at the back, whilst Andrew King did well in the same position for Kyles with Thomas Whyte controlling the midfield.

Lochaber remain in the relegation zone and their negative goal difference makes it unlikely they will escape the drop.
Lochaber’s final fixture, at home to Oban Camanachd, is currently scheduled for Saturday October 19.

Kyles Athletic host Kilmallie this Saturday.

Lochaber’s Barry MacDonald shields the ball during the game against Kyles Athletic. Photograph: Kim Ferguson.

Kingussie 4
Caberfeidh 1

Kingussie go level on points with Mowi Premiership league leaders Lovat after defeating Caberfeidh 4-1 in their 11am throw-up at the Dell.
This was Kingussie’s first match since their Artemis Macaulay Cup Final win over Oban Camanachd four weeks earlier.

Caberfeidh’s last outing was a league defeat, also to Oban Camanachd, three weeks before.

Kingussie were along usual lines but Caberfeidh were missing keeper Ewan Pilcher, Ben MacDonald, Kenneth MacKenzie Robbie Brindle and Colin MacLennan. Iain McCall deputised in goal.

James Falconer broke the deadlock on 29 minutes. He initially went to hit the ball on his back-hand before missing and turning to his fore-hand, sending the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

With just a couple of first half minutes remaining, Roddy Young made a run behind the defence, where he was played in by Lee Bain, and Young cut in towards the goal, avoiding a flying caman, before slotting the ball between the keeper’s legs.

Craig Morrison maintained his superb scoring streak, netting for the nineteenth consecutive match on 51 minutes.

Morrison hit the ball as he was falling over, making it 2-1. Roddy Young got his second and Kingussie’s third goal on 65 minutes.
The goal came from a free-hit, cut back from the penalty spot by Ruaridh Anderson and Young connected well with the ball, slamming it high into the net.

Roddy Young completed his hat-trick with five minutes remaining. Savio Genini made a run in towards goal with Roddy Young making a run off the defenders. Genini squared the ball to Young who composed himself before rifling a shot past the keeper to make it 4-1.

Mowi National Division

Glasgow Mid Argyll 0
Strathglass 0

Glasgow Mid Argyll’s promotion chances suffered a blow when they drew 0-0 with Strathglass in their noon throw-up at Yoker.
GMA were without suspended South U21 captain Jonny MacAskill, whilst Josh Fraser was free of his ban for Strathglass.

GMA had the better possession but found it difficult to trouble the visiting keeper.

The Strathglass defence were very good, not allowing GMA to get shots in on goal.

GMA now go one point clear of third-placed Skye with a game in hand but they have a difficult run in with their final three matches all away to Strathglass, Skye and Fort William with the later clash now scheduled for Saturday October 12.

Strathglass are back in action this Saturday as they travel to Oban to play Oban Celtic.

Youth shinty
Mowi MacMaster Cup Final

Kinlochshiel U14 P
Oban Camanachd U14 P

There was disappointment for Kinlochshiel U14 and Oban Camanachd U14 as the MacMaster Cup Final was postponed.

Heavy rain and blustery conditions left the An Arid pitch heavy and, with the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final coming up later in the afternoon, the final was put off and provisionally rescheduled to take place at An Aird on Saturday September 21 with a noon throw-up.

Camanachd Association Cup

Skye Camanachd 5
Newtonmore 2

Skye Camanachd beat Newtonmore 5-2 in the inaugural National Final of the Camanachd Association Cup at Lochaber High School’s all-weather pitch on Saturday September 14.

This is a new 10-a-side competition in the primary school age shinty calendar.

The match was played in difficult conditions.

Skye led 3-0 at half time through an own goal followed by efforts from Alasdair Stewart and Seonaidh MacLeod.
Brodie MacQueen and Reid Constant made it 5-0 before Lewis MacKintosh and Cameron Mitchell countered for Newtonmore.