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The much anticipated fixture list for the 2020 shinty season has been released by the Camanachd Association, with competitive games beginning on Saturday March 7.
Mowi Premiership champions Kingussie open the defence of their trophy at home to Caberfeidh. The sides are scheduled to play in a preseason friendly at the same venue a week earlier.
Kingussie travel to Lovat seven days later and host Kilmallie on Saturday March 21.
Premiership clubs play in the first rounds of the Scottish Sea Farms Glasgow Celtic Society Cup and cottages.com MacTavish Cup on the final Saturday of the month.
Oban Camanachd, runners-up last year, play the Premiership’s two newly-promoted sides over the first couple of weeks of the new season. Oban Camanachd made a slow start last year, taking only two points from their first four games, so they will be keen to get off to a good start against Glasgow Mid Argyll at Yoker. 2019 Mowi National Division champions Fort William are the visitors to Mossfield a week later whilst Stephen Sloss takes his side to Kinlochshiel on Saturday March 21.
Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon said: ‘There are no easy games in the Premiership.
‘We’ll get a look at GMA in our friendly against them at Mossfield on February 15, whilst Fort William will be keen to put a marker down having won the National Division so convincingly and having been absent from the top flight for the last three years. I’ll be giving Stephen [Sloss] my input having faced them many a time with Celtic.
‘As for Kinlochshiel, we had two wins from three games against them last season, with the other game a draw.
‘We had the pleasure of sampling their new park at the end of last season, which is a plus, but it will still be extremely difficult up there.’
Fort William’s return to shinty’s top flight begins with a match against Kyles Athletic at An Aird. They travel to Oban Camanachd on Saturday March 14 before welcoming Lovat to An Aird.
Kilmallie host Lovat at Canal Parks on the opening day of the new season. A week after, John Stewart’s side are off to Tighnabruaich to play Kyles Athletic.
The sides agreed to share the points rather than play the delayed corresponding fixture at the end of last season. Kilmallie are on the road again on Saturday March 21 when they play champions Kingussie at the Dell.
Lovat’s next two fixtures following their match at Kilmallie are against Kingussie at Balgate and Fort William at An Aird.
Kyles Athletic travel to Fort William before playing host to Kilmallie and Newtonmore.
Newtonmore, under new boss Orsten Gardner, start at Kinlochshiel then face Glasgow Mid Argyll, home, and Kyles Athletic away.
Kinlochshiel follow up the Newtonmore match with a trip to Caberfeidh followed by the visit of Oban Camanachd.
Caberfeidh’s fixtures either side of their home match against Kinlochshiel are journeys to Kingussie and then to Glasgow Mid Argyll.
GMA’s return to the Premiership sees successive clashes with Oban Camanachd, home, Newtonmore, away, and Caberfeidh, home.
Mowi National Division
Lochaber’s bid to bounce back following their relegation from the Mowi Premiership begins with an opening day fixture against Strathglass at Cannich.
Lochaber play Oban Celtic at Spean Bridge on Saturday March 14 before travelling to the Winterton to play Inveraray, who also dropped from the top flight at the end of last season. National Division clubs play in the first rounds of the Scottish Sea Farms Glasgow Celtic Society Cup and cottages.com MacTavish Cup on the final Saturday of the month.
Oban Celtic will welcome Skye Camanachd on Saturday March 7. On the following two Saturdays, Dougie MacIntyre and Les Kinvig take their charges to Lochaber and Strathglass.
Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘We hope to have a fit and full squad for the start of the season and although it’s a tough first game, we’ll look to make a good start.
‘Looking at the fixture list though, we are hoping for home draws in the cups or we could end up playing away from home for six of the first eight weeks of the season.’
Skye Camanachd’s opening day trip to Oban Celtic is followed by a clash with Inveraray at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree, then a journey south to Aberdour.
The start of the season is an historic moment for Aberdour’s whose first match in the Mowi National Division is against Beauly at Silversands.
Aberdour then travel to Glenurquhart on Saturday March 14 before Skye Camanachd visit Fife.
Inveraray have been given a tough start to the season. They host Glenurquhart before travelling to Skye and then play Lochaber at the Winterton on Saturday March 21.
Glenurquhart open the season against Inveraray, away, Aberdour, home, and Beauly, away.
Before their trip to Glenurquhart, Beauly will travel to Aberdour and then host Strathglass.
Meantime Strathglass, under new boss Allan MacLeod, start at home to Lochaber before games against Beauly, away, and Glenurquhart, home.
A preview of the opening regional league fixtures will be in next week’s Oban Times.
Change of boss at Taynuilt
Steven Campbell is the new manager at Taynuilt Shinty Club.
The Mowi South Division 1 club recently held their annual general meeting in the pavilion when a good number of players and committee members attended.
Former boss James MacLaren intimated that, due to business commitments, he would be standing down as coach.
The chairman thanked him for his efforts during the past season.
Steven Campbell takes over as coach for the new season and whilst the club have the same squad as last year, there is the possibility of additions still to come.
Taynuilt’s opening pre-season match with the Inveraray seconds last Saturday was postponed, whilst they play Glenorchy for the John Matheson Memorial Cup on Saturday February 15. Kilmory are the opponents a week later, whilst Taynuilt round off the pre-season against Oban Celtic on Saturday February 29.
Pre-season friendly results
Oban Celtic P
Oban Celtic and Lochaber had been scheduled to meet at Mossfield but the game was called off on Saturday morning because of a waterlogged pitch.
Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘We carried out a pitch inspection at 8.30am on Saturday and there was standing water on the pitch with more rain forecast. As luck would have it, the weather cleared up after that and it couldn’t have been much better for this time of year come throw-up time, so that was a wee bit disappointing.’
Oban Camanachd P
Lochside Rovers P
Players from Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers were to play a mixed match at Ganavan but the pitch was ruled unplayable.
Fort William P
Kyles Athletic P
There was disappointment for Fort William and Kyles Athletic as their Drew Ferguson Memorial Cup clash was postponed 48 hours ahead of throw-up as the relentless rain left the An Aird pitch unplayable.
The sides hope to re-schedule the match for the earliest opportunity.
The match between the Inveraray second team and Taynuilt was called off with both club pitches unplayable.
Kingussie’s clash with Inveraray was called off because of an unplayable pitch.
Col Glen P
The clash between Strathglass and Col Glen was postponed as the Cannich pitch was too soft to be playable.
New Newtonmore first team manager Orsten Gardner will have to wait a week before seeing his side in action for the first time as their 1.30pm throw-up against Glenurquhart at Blairbeg was postponed on Friday afternoon because of an unplayable field.
The meeting between Inverness and the Newtonmore seconds at the Bught Park also fell to a pitch inspection.
Ardnamurchan Ladies and a Lochaber Ladies side beat the elements, drawing their pre-season friendly at Strontian 1-1 on Sunday February 2.
The match was played in three half hour segments with the exciting encounter ending all-square. Ardnamurchan’s goal came from Katie Cameron with Amy Disher counting for Lochaber.
This weekend’s pre-season fixtures
Pre-season friendlies gather pace this Saturday, February 8.
Amongst the matches scheduled, Oban Camanachd take on Inveraray at Ganavan.
Connor Howe will be part of the Oban Camanachd squad having rejoined the club during the close season. Throw-up is at 1pm.
The Oban Celtic second team welcome the Inveraray second team to Mossfield.
Throw-up is at noon and Alex MacVicar is the match referee.
Kinlochshiel and Fort William will decide on a venue for their clash at the end of the week.
The Lochaber and Newtonmore second teams are scheduled to meet.
Lovat play Glenurquhart, whilst Beauly take on Newtonmore.
The Aberdour and Strathglass first and second teams meet at Silversands.
Skye Camanachd will hold the MacKinnon Sixes at Portree High School’s astro pitch and Kingussie host the Liz Young Sixes.
Caberfeidh ready for new season
Caberfeidh’s pre-season programme is taking shape.
The Caberfeidh first team open with a match against Newtonmore at Castle Leod on Saturday February 15.
Caberfeidh host National Division side Skye a week later before travelling to the Dell to contest the Bill MacPherson Memorial Plate with Kingussie on Saturday February 29.
The Caberfeidh second team has two friendly matches. They meet Strathglass at Cannich on Saturday February 22 before hosting their Kingussie counterparts at Castle Leod on Saturday February 29.
Caberfeidh have also undertaken work on their pitch and on their clubhouse throughout the winter break with Peter McCall, Iain McCall, David MacMaster, Stewart MacLennan, Ali MacLennan, Andy Coleman, Martin MacLean, David Morrison and Craig Grant all involved.
The club confirmed that all tickets have been sold for ‘Billy’s Bash’, a memorial evening and fundraising dance to remember the late Billy Tulloch at Strathpeffer Golf Clubhouse on Saturday February 29.
Shinty’s team of the decade
The Camanachd Association ran a social media vote to name shinty’s team of the decade.
Lovat and Scotland keeper Stuart MacDonald took almost half the goalkeeping vote, seeing off Newtonmore’s Michael Ritchie, Fort William’s Paul MacKay and Stuart MacKintosh from Glenurquhart, to take his place between the sticks.
Newtonmore’s Norman Campbell was the over-whelming choice at full back, earning just over 63 per cent of votes, with Glenurquhart’s John Barr, Lovat’s Drew Howie and James Hutchison from Kingussie also in contention.
Steven Macdonald joined his former Newtonmore teammate Campbell in the side at wing back. Macdonald took just over a third of the vote, edging out Donald Irvine from Kyles Athletic, Lovat’s Daniel Grieve and Kingussie’s Lee Bain.
The other wing back berth went to Mark MacDonald from Kinlochshiel. He finished just ahead of Oban Camanachd’s Daniel Cameron with Newtonmore’s Andy MacKintosh and Callum Miller from Kyles Athletic collecting a fair share of the vote.
Rory Kennedy was the runaway winner at half back, amassing just over half the vote. The Newtonmore ace saw off Kyles Athletic’s Andrew King, Conor Cormack from Kinlochshiel and Inveraray’s Douglas Dando.
Paul MacArthur took the first wing centre position with the former Newtonmore and current Kyles Athletic player gaining almost a third of the vote. Kyles Athletic’s Robbie MacLeod gained a quarter of the votes cast with Fort William’s John MacDonald and Kingussie’s Fraser Munro not far behind.
Finlay MacRae became the second Kinlochshiel player to make the side, slotting in at full centre. MacRae collected almost 45 per cent of the votes to finish ahead of Niall MacPhee, Fort William, David Robertson, Inveraray, and Louis Munro, Kingussie.
Former Fort William player Gary Innes made up the midfield trio. Innes, shinty’s first ambassador, took just over 40 per cent of the 595 votes cast. Newtonmore’s Michael Russell picked up a quarter of the vote with Lochaber’s Shaun Nicolson and Dunkie Kerr from Kyles Athletic sharing the balance.
Kyles Athletic’s Roddy Macdonald secured almost 45 per cent of the vote for half forward. He finished ahead of club mate Grant Irvine who earned close to a third of the vote with Bryan Simpson, Fort William, and Garry MacPherson, Inveraray, taking the balance.
There was a shoot-out between Lovat’s Greg Matheson and Keith MacRae from Kinlochshiel for the first wing forward position. Matheson took almost 50 per cent of the vote with MacRae gathering almost 42 per cent. Inveraray’s Euan McMurdo was the other nominee.
Kevin Bartlett, who played for Caberfeidh and Lovat during the decade, took almost 57 per cent of the vote to secure the other wing forward position, whilst Newtonmore’s Evan Menzies and Oban Camanachd’s Andrew MacCuish were also in contention.
Finally the full forward slot was contested between Kingussie’s Ronald Ross, Inveraray’s Russell McKinlay and Newtonmore duo Danny Macrae and Glen MacKintosh. Ross finished in front with 48 per cent of the vote, ahead of MacKintosh.
Shinty’s team of the decade from: Stuart MacDonald, Lovat; Norman Campbell, Newtonmore; Steven Macdonald, Newtonmore; Mark MacDonald, Kinlochshiel; Rory Kennedy, Newtonmore; Paul MacArthur, Newtonmore/ Kyles Athletic; Finlay MacRae, Kinlochshiel; Gary Innes, Fort William; Roddy Macdonald, Kyles Athletic; Greg Matheson, Lovat; Kevin Bartlett, Caberfeidh/Lovat; and Ronald Ross, Kingussie.
Donnie MacDougall, Dalmally
The shinty community was saddened to hear of the passing of Donnie MacDougall who died suddenly on Friday January 24.
Donnie had a lifelong involvement with shinty. He was a founder of the present Glenorchy Shinty Club and, for the last few years, was a match assessor for the Camanachd Association.
His playing days started with Fort William before leaving to go on National Service. When he returned, he played for Lochaber.
Work commitments took Donnie to play for Beauly and then Oban Celtic, where he was part of the 1962 Glasgow Celtic Society Cup winning team.
By 1965, Donnie had moved to Dalmally where he re-formed Glenorchy Shinty Club which had recently folded.
He went on to play and be a part of the club in many roles over the years.
He was latterly club chieftain, taking great pride in the success of the club over the years.
Recently Donnie enjoyed travelling to the shinty heartlands, watching games and meeting friends old and new, in his role as a match assessor. He was rightly proud to have only missed two Camanachd Cup Finals over the last 66 years.
Oban Celtic and Oban Camanachd were amongst a number of shinty clubs to pay their respects.
Donnie MacDougall’s funeral took place at Glenorchy Parish Church, Dalmally, on Tuesday February 4.