Shinty round-up

The victorious Lovat squad after beating Beauly 3-1 to lift the Lovat Cup. Photographs: Neil Paterson

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Lovat beat Beauly to retain Lovat Cup

Lovat won the Lovat Cup for the fifth successive year, beating Beauly 3-1 at Balgate on Thursday January 2.

This was the first match in charge for new Lovat co-managers Alan MacRae and Jamie Matheson who had Drew Howie back at wing centre following his return from travelling abroad for a year.

There was also a start for Bailey MacKay in midfield with Marc MacLachlan, Chris Johnson and Lewis Bryson making up the bench. Duncan Davidson and Martin Mainland were missing.

Beauly, who last won the trophy in 2015, have former boss Roger Cormack, stalwart Jamie MacLennan and first team regular Sean Stewart looking after the side this season and they named an 18-player squad for the 1pm throw-up.

The usual good crowd from throughout the shinty community gathered for the game. There was a minute’s silence ahead of throw-up following the death of Beauly stalwart and former president and Camanachd Association patron Willie MacDonald.

Lovat’s Craig Mainland and Beauly’s Euan MacCormick during the Lovat Cup match. Photograph: Neil Paterson.

Greg Matheson, so influential in this fixture in recent years, lined-up in the Lovat attack after missing the 2019 encounter with a knee injury. He wasted no time making his mark as he gave his side the lead in the opening minute.

Fraser Heath won a long ball forward from full centre Callum Cruden and played it inside to Lewis Tawse whose reverse ball went into the ‘D’. Beauly keeper MacKay Murray came off his line to clear from the right of the ‘D’, under pressure from Greg Matheson, but Lewis Tawse regained possession, touching the ball forward to Matheson who blasted home from a tight angle on the left.

Beauly had a chance on eight minutes when Callum Flynn got away from Danny Kelly. Flynn knocked the ball forward, then got to it before keeper Stuart MacDonald, who raced from his line. But Flynn’s shot from the left flew across goal.

Lovat doubled their lead on 10 minutes. Lorne MacKay’s short free-hit from a central position found Lewis Tawse with his back to goal. Tawse took a touch inside before turning and hammering the ball into the net to make it 2-0.

Greg Matheson saw a strike come back off the post on 40 minutes and, with a couple of first half minutes remaining, Beauly’s Jack MacDonald was foiled when Stuart MacDonald made a great save with his stick from MacDonald’s well-struck shot.

Greg Matheson hit the post for a second time on 55 minutes and Lorne MacKay struck the outside of the stanchion from the re-bound.
Beauly rallied though and never let their heads drop.

With rain now falling and the pitch cutting up, 69 minutes were played before Greg Matheson got his second and Lovat’s third. A fine ball down the left from Graeme MacMillan allowed Fraser Heath to spin away from Angus Renwick. Heath cut in to the front of the ‘D’ but couldn’t get a shot away.
Matheson ran across goal from the right, taking a touch on the run, before firing a shot, on his back-hand, low across the keeper into the corner of the net from the left of the ‘D’.

Beauly keeper Mackay Murray saves from Lovat’s Lorne MacKay. Photograph: Neil Paterson.

Greg Matheson was denied a hat-trick on 77 minutes when he had the ball in the net but his effort didn’t count as one of his team-mates was offside. Beauly pulled a goal back with 10 minutes remaining. Jack MacDonald played a bouncing ball wide to David Fraser on the right who caught out the Lovat rear-guard as he volleyed a superb shot over keeper Stuart MacDonald’s right shoulder to make the final score 3-1.

Lovat captain Callum Cruden was presented with the Lovat Cup by Lord Lovat Simon Fraser and the celebrations carried over to the club’s annual dance the same evening.

Calum Girvan was the match referee, assisted by goal judges Finlay Ross and Tina Marshall.

Lovat’s Graeme MacMillan is chased down by Beauly’s Euan MacCormick. Photograph: Neil Paterson.
Kingussie 2020 come out on top

The Kingussie 2020 squad lifted the Bob Sinclair Memorial Trophy with a 3-1 victory over the Kingussie All-Stars at Market Stance on New Year’s Day.

Goals from James Falconer for the 2020 side and Louis Munro for the All-Stars saw the score level at 1-1 at half-time. Savio Genini and Ryan Macwilliam netted after the break to give the Kingussie 2020 squad a 3-1 victory.

When referee Davie Anderson blew for time, the Bob Sinclair Memorial Trophy was presented to Kingussie 2020 captain Rory MacKeachan by Kingussie stalwart Donnie Grant who also presented James Hutchison and Fraser Munro with their 2019 Mowi Premiership medals after the pair missed the final league game of the season at Kyles Athletic.

Neil Carmichael is Oban Celtic Player of the Year

Neil Carmichael has been named 2019 Oban Celtic senior player of the year.
Speaking following a well-attended prizegiving event, Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘Neil is a leader on and off the pitch and he would run through a brick wall for Oban Celtic. He always gives his all and has a great attitude, second to none. He showed that when he came back into the side early to help out following injury.

‘Neil’s also a role model for our younger players and we miss him when he’s not in the team.’

Oban Celtic second team keeper Rebecca Mcphee was the junior player of the year. Les Kinvig also commented on the important part she had played for the side that finished third in Mowi South Division 2 last season.

‘Rebecca came into the side early in the season and saved the team on many occasions. She has been a consistent player over the year and her performances at Bute and Aberdour in particular kept us in these games.

‘Rebecca doesn’t shy away from any challenge and is not intimidated by anything. Her commitment is never in doubt and she often rearranges her work so she can train and play.’

The senior players’ player of year and went to Ross MacMillan, with the junior players’ player of year going to Jigme Jones.

The Oban Celtic youths were recognised for their contributions this season with Jamie Anderson collecting the U17 player of the year prize and Duncan MacEwan picking up the U14 player of the year award.

Top scorer accolades went to Ross MacMillan for the seniors and Scott Burnett for the juniors.

First team manager Dougie MacIntyre and his assistant Les Kinvig presented the prizes on the night.

Oban Celtic’s pre-season training starts in mid-January. Les Kinvig said: ‘It will be great to have Craig MacMillan back, whilst Lennon Campbell and Peter Currie weren’t with us at the same stage last season so it will be beneficial to have them go through pre-season.’

Les also paid tribute to the club’s second team, adding: ‘Having a second team was a huge help for the Oban Celtic first team last season. It not only gives our young players regular game time and a chance to shine but also means they have match practice when they are called up for the seniors.’

Oban Celtic have already arranged a pre-season friendly against Mowi Premiership side Kyles Athletic at Dunoon on Saturday February 15 and are currently putting together the remainder of their pre-season programme.

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers pre-season plans

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers’ pre-season plans are almost complete and they will be hoping for good weather so the matches can go ahead during the weeks in the lead up to the new shinty season.

Oban Camanachd welcome Inveraray to Mossfield for their first pre-season friendly on Saturday February 1.

A week later, the Oban side hope to host Ballachulish, although this game is still to be confirmed.

Glasgow Mid Argyll’s first and second teams visit Oban on Saturday February 15. The senior sides will meet at Mossfield, whilst Lochside Rovers will play the GMA seconds at Ganavan.

Oban Camanachd welcome Newtonmore to Mossfield on Saturday February 22 whilst Lochside meet the Newtonmore reserves at Ganavan the same day.

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers have yet to secure friendly matches for Saturday February 29 and have put out an open invitation to potential opponents for a fixture. They will play a mixed game if opponents can’t be found.

The new shinty season starts on Saturday March 7.

Oban Camanachd training

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers started their pre-season training at Oban High School on Wednesday January 8.

Wednesday sessions run from 8pm till 9pm, whilst personal trainer Jemma Campbell will put the squad through their paces on Monday evenings, beginning on January 13.

Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers are on the lookout for more players who are welcome to attend these sessions.

Kilmallie training under way

Kilmallie’s weekly training for the new shinty season started at Lochaber High School’s between 8pm and 9pm on Tuesday January 7.

Training continues at the all-weather pitch at Lochaber High School from 7pm to 8.30pm tonight (Thursday January 9).

It’s another big season for the club as they retained their Mowi Premiership status last term.

Lochaber training starts

Lochaber Camanachd Club began senior training on Wednesday January 8.
The Wednesday sessions take place at the club’s Spean Bridge pitch at 7pm.

Friday night training sessions start at the Nevis Centre on Friday January 10 at 7.30pm.

Lochaber Ladies started their preparations at Lochaber High School’s astro pitch on Monday January 6 at 6.30pm. There are also Wednesday sessions at Spean Hall at 7pm. Players of all abilities are welcome.

New players for any of the club’s team will be made welcome.

Orsten Gardner is new Newtonmore boss

Orsten Gardner is the new Newtonmore first team manager.

Gardner’s appointment at the Camanachd Cup and MacTavish Cup holders was confirmed at Newtonmore’s annual general meeting.

Orsten Gardner takes over from Paul John MacKintosh whose recent tenure yielded five Camanachd Cups, five league titles, two Macaulay Cups and four MacTavish Cups.

Speaking after the appointment, former Newtonmore second team manager Orsten Gardner said: ‘I’m told last year was a disaster for Newtonmore as we only won two trophies compared to Kingussie’s amazing season when they also won two trophies. So our plans for the season ahead are to build on last year as a club whilst also hopefully avoiding as many injuries and, of course, winning more trophies.’

Cammy MacDonald and Glen Tonkin are coming in to help Orsten, whilst Tony Robinson, Grant Munro and Stephen MacLean remain part of the backroom team.

When asked about his squad for next season, Orsten added: @I’m not sure exactly which players are staying or playing again. I won’t know for sure until pre-season training begins and I see who turns up. It’s a clean slate for everyone so I’m hoping they all take the chance.’

There will also be the opportunity for players from the league-winning second team to stake a place.

‘Obviously the boys I’ve managed over the last two years with the seconds are all in my mind and I strongly believe Calum Stewart can take the league by storm if fit. Young Struan Ross is coming in after playing for Strathspey so it will be interesting to see how he develops and if he challenges for a place.’

Newtonmore will train three times during pre-season and already have five friendly matches arranged.

They travel to play Glenurquhart on Saturday February 1 and are also on the road a week later as they head for Beauly.

Further trips to Caberfeidh on Saturday February 15 and Oban Camanachd a week after follow before Fort William visit the Eilan on Saturday February 29 for the home club’s open day.

Peter Ross takes over from Orsten Gardner as Newtonmore second team manager in Mowi North Division 1 after being involved with Strathspey Camanachd. He is tasked with keeping blooding the club’s younger players.

Kenny Ross makes top 50 Scottish sporting stars

Newtonmore keeper Kenny Ross has been included in BBC Scotland’s top 50 greatest Scottish sporting stars of the last decade.

Kenny Ross came in at number 50 with the following testimony: ‘Shinty is shoved to the margins as far as national sports coverage is concerned, but there are great stories to be told and Kenny Ross is one of the best.

‘A former Scotland international, a Scotland assistant manager, a player who made his reputation as a midfielder with Lochcarron before switching to keeping goal for Newtonmore, Ross has won everything there is to win.

In the last decade, when his best days were supposed to be behind him, he’s won Camanachd Cups, MacTavish Cups, Premiership titles and player of the year awards.

‘Ross will turn 50 in 2020. What we see in him is a man who adores his sport, who plays for the sheer love of it. You have to have talent to last as long as he has, but talent without passion wouldn’t be enough. He’s perhaps the lowest-key member of our Top 50, but he deserves his place all the same.’

Members of the public nominated their top sporting Scots of the decade and 25 sports were represented as a panel ranked them from 50-1 with advice sought from experts where necessary.

Kenny Ross was shinty’s only representative.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson came third; Scotland and Liverpool defender Andy Robertson was second, with tennis icon Andy Murray top of the pile.

Willie MacDonald, Beauly

One of shinty’s best known and popular personalities, Willie MacDonald from Beauly, died peacefully at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, surrounded by his family on Monday December 23 after a spell of ill health.

Willie MacDonald first became involved with Beauly Shinty Club in the early 1970s and went on to serve the club in a number of roles including president for six years until 2007. He was made a life member of the club in 2015.

Willie MacDonald was likeable and enthusiastic and will have been a contact point for many clubs as he sold the Beauly shinty balls on behalf of the club.
He also made a wider contribution to the game and was a long-serving member of the Camanachd Association’s Disciplinary Committee.

He was made a patron of the association to mark his services to shinty.
Better known by the nickname ‘Black Will’, Willie MacDonald was just four weeks short of his 94th birthday. He is survived by his wife Isabell, children Alice, Ian, David and Alan, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

There was a large shinty turnout when Willie MacDonald’s funeral took place in the Free Church, Muir of Ord on Tuesday January 7.