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Assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon talks all things Oban Camanachd as he and manager Stephen Sloss prepare their squad for the new shinty season.
A change of season brings a change of personnel at most clubs and Oban Camanachd are no different.
2019 vice captain Lorne Dickie won’t be available from the beginning of the season but the club hopes he can make a delayed start. And Aidan MacIntyre has retired.
Kenny said: ‘Lorne is a very important player for us so we hope he can re-join the squad before too long. Aidan is a long servant to the club who will be a big miss.’
Lorne’s unavailability, Aidan MacIntyre’s retiral and Scott MacMillan’s new work commitments restricting his availability, mean Stephen and Kenny will have to construct a new midfield.
This endorses the decision to give Craig Easton, Blair MacFarlane, Ross Campbell and Lewis Buchanan more game time towards the end of last season and the youngsters made the most of the opportunity to impress.
‘Age is no barrier at Oban Camanachd,’ said Kenny. ‘If these boys continue to train hard, they will be considered. If you are good enough, you are old enough. Daniel Sloss has already proven that, so the opportunity is there for all the young boys.’
Connor Howe returns after spells with Inveraray and Oban Celtic to increase options in attack.
Kenny added: ‘Connor offered his services after a spell away. I had Connor at Oban Celtic so I know him and what he can offer. He gives us options and he will work hard and try to make an impact.’
The club’s ambitious aim is to better last season as Kenny confirmed. ‘It’s going to be difficult to better last season but, be in no doubt, we want to get our hands on one of the national trophies. We’ve tasted what it could be like from last year’s finals and it would be fantastic to get one of the national trophies.
‘The Celtic Society Cup is good, and it remains an aim for the club, but it is a regional competition and we want our supporters to see Oban Camanachd lifting a national trophy. It’s been a while – 1996 since the Camanachd Cup win and the Macaulay success the year before. It would be sweet to do it again.
‘The senior boys would love to achieve that and they deserve it as they have put in so much effort over the years.’
Kenny wasn’t keen to dwell on last season, but it’s clear the club intend to learn from the experience and use it to their advantage in 2020. ‘It shouldn’t be forgotten 2019 was a very good season for the club, especially considering it was the first season in charge for Stephen and I,’ he said.
‘We were involved in all the finals and finished second in the league and we’ll be wiser for the experience. We have analysed games and, if the opportunities come around again, we’ll use these experiences to help us lift a trophy.
‘Credit to Kingussie, who finished strongly in the league, but there are fine margins and we can look back to some key moments that made the difference. In the league, we led twice at Lovat in our second game before drawing 2-2 and we lost a late goal against Kinlochshiel in the match after and drew 1-1.
‘We then went to the Dell without Daniel Cameron and Papa [Andrew MacCuish] and lost 2-0, with both goals coming in the last eight minutes.
‘And we were 2-1 up against Kyles but refereeing decisions went against us and we lost 4-3. That one will haunt us. And all this happened before the middle of April.
‘So the Gods weren’t with us in that early part of the season and it was like that in the Macaulay Final against Kingussie. Papa went through and had an effort saved then they went straight up the park and scored so it was 2-2 when it could have been 3-1. It’s these fine margins.
‘We just didn’t turn up against Newtonmore in the Camanachd Final but beat them 5-1 at their place in the league the week after.’
‘When all is said and done though, Stephen and I now have our maiden season under our belts. We’ve been to all the shinty grounds and seen the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing clubs so we will be better prepared. It’s impossible to get everything right but you have to gain the respect of the players and make them believe. The players are used to our ideas and, now we’ve had that first year, we’ll all show the same commitment and use last year as a springboard to make that next step to national success.’
2020 fixture list
The Mowi South and North Division 2 clubs are putting their final plans together ahead of the new shinty season which starts on Saturday March 7.
Mowi South Division 2
2019 champions Kilmory’s match with the recently-relegated Inveraray second team brings together two of the main title challengers on the opening day of the season.
Kilmory opted not to take promotion following last year’s title success, whilst Inveraray were relegated from South 1.
Next up for Kilmory is a trip to play Aberdour’s second team before enjoying a free Saturday.
The Inveraray seconds are back on the road following the Kilmory game when they head for Glenorchy before travelling to Ardnamurchan for a third successive away match.
Glenorchy have a free Saturday on the opening day in this seven team league before they welcome the Inveraray colts on Saturday March 15 and travel to Bute a week later.
The Oban Celtic second team, who finished third in the division in 2019, journey to Ardnamurchan on the first day of the shinty season before welcoming their Bute counterparts to Oban. They then host Aberdour seconds.
Ardnamurchan have a free Saturday following the Oban Celtic clash. They then have home advantage against the Inveraray second team.
The Bute reserves welcome their Aberdour counterparts before Oban Celtic, away, and Glenorchy, home.
Following their cross-country journey to Bute, the Aberdour colts play Kilmory, home, then Oban Celtic, away.
Mowi North Division 2
The Lochaber second team’s return to Mowi North Division 2 starts with a home clash against the Strathglass second team at Spean Bridge. They make the short journey to Canal Parks to play Kilmallie on Saturday March 14, whilst Strathspey Camanachd visit Spean Bridge seven days later.
The Kilmallie reserves have a free day on the opening day of the season in this nine team league before successive home matches against their Lochaber and Beauly counterparts.
Aberdeen University, relegated from North 1 at the end of last season, have a 1.30pm start at Strathspey Camanachd before enjoying a free Saturday. They then welcome Boleskine to Balgownie on Saturday March 21.
Prior to their trip to Aberdeen, Boleskine’s series of matches is Lewis Camanachd, home, and Strathglass seconds, away.
As usual, until the ferry timetables change, Lewis Camanachd start the season away from home with trips to Boleskine, Strathspey then Inverness.
Strathspey Camanachd’s schedule over the first three Saturdays is Aberdeen University, home, Lewis, home, and Lochaber reserves, away.
The Inverness second team travel to Beauly before hosting Boleskine then Lewis Camanachd.
The Beauly colts have Inverness, home, Strathglass, away, and Kilmallie, away.
The Strathglass seconds have Lochaber seconds, away, and Beauly, home, before a free Saturday.
Pre-season friendly results
The pre-season friendlies couldn’t beat Storm Dennis on Saturday February 15.
Oban Camanachd P
Glasgow Mid Argyll P
There was disappointment for Oban Camanachd and Glasgow Mid Argyll first teams as their 1pm throw-up at Mossfield, Oban, was postponed on Friday lunchtime.
The sides are scheduled to meet at Yoker on the first day of the season.
Lochside Rovers P
Glasgow Mid Argyll P
An unplayable pitch also led to the postponement of the clash between Lochside Rovers and the Glasgow Mid Argyll second team at Ganavan.
Kyles Athletic P
Oban Celtic P
Oban Celtic’s pre-season friendly against Kyles Athletic at Dunoon was also postponed and the Oban side’s attention now turns to this week’s friendly meeting with Kilmallie at Mossfield.
Glengarry’s friendly with the Beauly first team at Craigard was another weather casualty.
The clash between Caberfeidh and Newtonmore was called off on Friday as Castle Leod was ruled unplayable.
Despite having Kincraig’s pitch on stand-by, the game couldn’t go ahead.
The friendly between the Newtonmore reserves and Tayforth was also called off.
Skye Camanachd P
Bad weather led to the call-off of the match between Kingussie and Skye Camanachd at Dunbarry.
The reserve meeting between the sides, also scheduled for the same venue, was another postponement.
Strathglass and Lovat were to contest the Murdo MacKenzie memorial trophy in a 2pm throw-up at Cannich.
The match was put back 30 minutes in a bid to beat the weather but the heavy rain led to an eventual postponement.
The noon throw-up between the clubs’ second teams at Balgate was also cancelled.
Inverness and Glenurquhart were left frustrated as their game at Bught Park was another casualty.
A Friday pitch inspection saw the match between the Glenurquhart seconds and the Kilmallie seconds fall.
The match between Boleskine and the Caberfeidh colts at Smith Park was another postponement.
This weekend’s pre-season friendlies
There is a busy pre-season friendly schedule for Saturday February 22.
Including in the fixtures, Oban Camanachd and Newtonmore meet at the Eilan with a 12.30pm throw-up.
Oban Celtic will play Mowi Premiership side Kilmallie at Mossfield. Throw-up 1pm.
Lochside Rovers have been unable to arrange a friendly for this weekend.
Mowi North Division side Beauly welcome Fort William, newly promoted to the Mowi Premiership this season. Fort William have found Braeview Park to be a difficult venue in recent seasons so this will be a good test for both sides.
Lovat take on Lochaber at Balgate, whilst Glenurquhart play Kinlochshiel.
Caberfeidh and Skye Camanachd clash at Castle Leod, whilst Glasgow Mid Argyll and Inveraray meet at Yoker and Strathglass make the short journey to Inverness.
The Kingussie seconds play Aberdour, whilst Boleskine take on the Kinlochshiel second team. The Strathglass seconds and the Caberfeidh seconds meet, as do Tayforth and the English Shinty Association.
Charles Young is new Strathspey chairman
Strathspey Camanachd have announced Charles Young will be their new club chairman.
Charles Young brings huge experience to the position, having previously served as a Camanachd Association director and a Grade 1 shinty referee.
Rob Clark comes on board as secretary, with Beth Shearer treasurer.
The men’s senior team will be run by Donald Colville and Mark MacDonald, whilst Lucy Davis looks after the ladies’ senior team who have launched an appeal for new players.
Lochcarron Camanachd held their awards night and dinner dance on Saturday February 8.
There was a father and son success at the awards with Gregor Cushnie, who also finished top scorer, getting the nod as manager Murdo John Fraser’s player of the year, whilst Kenny Cushnie was the players’ player of the year.
The award for commitment and endeavour went to Sean MacCuish with the young player prize shared between Liam Arnott and Fraser Stewart.
There was a special presentation to Chieftain George Hendry who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the club for many years.
Earlier in the day, a team of former Lochcarron players travelled from far and wide to take on the present side at Battery Park.
A good crowd braved the cold and windy conditions to see John Maclennan score twice with Ross Brown adding the third to give the ex-players, inspired by the excellent Nick Dalgety, a 3-0 victory.
Kingussie and Badenoch awards night
Kingussie have confirmed their 2019 player of the year winners.
Defender Calum Grant was named first team player of the year and players’ player of the year, whilst Cammy Leiper was the second team player of the year.
Struan Robertson, U17, and Calum Douglas, U14, were the youth winners.
Kieran Macpherson was young player of the year, whilst Cluanie Fraser was given the club’s most committed player accolade. Dallas Young and Iain Borthwick shared the volunteer of the year prize for their contributions to coaching.
Badenoch Ladies confirmed Rhona McIntyre as their player of the year, with Roma Fraser the U18 player of the year and Eilidh Ross the most improved player of the year.
The Camanachd Association has reminded clubs of byelaw changes which come into effect from the start of the 2020 shinty season.
Changes to Byelaw 1 were made at November’s annual general meeting whilst some alterations to Byelaw 3 were made at the board meeting in January.
These changes include:
Byelaw 1.2 Players Participating
All players in the adult game must be aged 16 at the time of registering for the season in question. A club can field a player under this age on the condition a parent/guardian consent form is completed and countersigned by a club representative confirming the player is ready to compete in the adult game. The minimum age for participation in the adult game is 13 years of age.
Byelaw 1.4 Players’ Equipment
A player whose equipment does not comply (with the prescribed standard) will not be permitted to participate in the game.
Byelaw 1.12 Fouls and Misconduct
A player may stop the ball with both feet while he is moving provided that both heels are together at the moment of contact. If both feet are off the ground at the moment of contact, the referee shall be the sole judge of whether or not the player intentionally kicked the ball.
Where the ball plays the player, it is not a foul.
Byelaw 1.18 Hit in
A player taking a hit-in will be allowed three efforts to throw the ball up but can only swing once. If the player taking the hit misses the ball with a swing on any of the three throws, the opposing team shall be awarded the hit-in.
Byelaw 3.7 Transfer of Players
A player may transfer, but not play for the new club after the earlier of:
a) The new club having completed 80 per cent of their league programme or
b) August 1
Byelaw 3.10 Eligibility Criteria for Cup and League Competitions and Rules for Promotional and Relegation in League Competition
No amendment to the player pool shall be permitted after August 1.
Failure to submit a team pool by the stipulated date shall result in the club being automatically fined £20.
In addition, a player is ineligible to play in the Sutherland, Bullough and Strathdearn Cup competitions if he has played five or more first team matches. A player under the age of 17 on January 1 of the year of competition will be exempt from this rule.
Byelaw 3.10. National and Area Leagues
A player is ineligible to play in league matches for their club’s reserve team if they have played 75 per cent or more of the club’s scheduled first team league matches. A player under the age of 17 on January 1 of the year of competition will be exempt from this rule.
TV switch forces fixture changes
BBC ALBA has confirmed tit is unable to broadcast the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup semi-final on Saturday August 15 as originally scheduled in the Camanachd Association fixture list.
Therefore the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup semi-finals will now take place on Saturday July 25 and Saturday August 8. As a result, a number of fixtures have had to be rescheduled including:
The Artemis Macaulay Cup semi-finals originally due on Saturday July 25 will now take place on Saturday July 18.
The Alvance Balliemore Cup Final scheduled for Saturday July 18 will now be played on Saturday August 15.
The Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup quarter-final due on Saturday July 11 will now take place on Saturday July 4.
The Strathdearn Cup Final due on Saturday July 4 has been put back to Saturday July 11. As a consequence of changing these key matches, a number of other fixtures have also had to be altered to avoid teams having runs of home or away fixtures.