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The new shinty season is under way, with half the schedule beating the elements on Saturday March 7.
Just 48 hours before the games began, Mowi Scotland confirmed its renewal as title sponsor of the Camanachd Association.
The new three-year contract marks 34 years since the world leading aquaculture and seafood company, and the largest producer of salmon, began sponsoring the sport.
Speaking about the sponsorship contract, Ewan MacColl from Mowi, said: ‘We are delighted to continue our relationship with the Camanachd Association. Shinty is so important to communities throughout the Highlands where we have a presence. It promotes the health and well-being of so many young people and brings communities together, especially on match days. We are proud to support shinty and the work of the Camanachd Association.’
The sponsorship deal means Mowi continues as title sponsor of the senior leagues; youth leagues; national shinty awards; shinty/hurling internationals; senior and U21 Scotland national squads and the Mowi youth development fund.
Derek Keir, chief executive officer of the Camanachd Association, spoke about the importance of the continued relationship with Mowi: ‘Over the past five years, participation in shinty has increased significantly. The support from Mowi provides vital pathways in participation and in performance for our members across Scotland to compete at a level appropriate to their interests and capability. The opportunities to compete as part of a team, to stay active and play an active role in your community are elements of modern society that promote togetherness. In the modern era and in rural parts of Scotland this outlet and opportunity to connect and reduce isolation is something we value greatly and we thank Mowi for their support to allow us to do this with our clubs and members.’
Camanachd Association president Keith Loades added: ‘We are delighted to renew our sponsorship with Mowi Scotland and thank them for their important role in our work to help our communities sustain Scotland’s most historic sport. The Camanachd Association is lucky to have fantastic sponsors such as Mowi which recognises the huge benefits shinty brings to communities across Scotland. A new season is upon us and we walk into it with pride, having signed this three-year deal with Mowi Scotland.’
As part of the Camanachd Association’s work to raise awareness of mental health and well-being, all throw-ups took place a minute later than usual as a cue for conversation about a subject that has been taboo for too long. All shinty members were encouraged to use this time to check in with one another and ensure the shinty community continues to support each other in the best way possible, by listening.
Glasgow Mid Argyll P Oban Camanachd P
Oban Camanachd face a delayed start to the season after their match against newly-promoted Glasgow Mid Argyll was postponed following an 8.45am inspection on Saturday morning which ruled Yoker unplayable.
Oban Camanachd now look to this Saturday’s meeting with Fort William at Mossfield with the Fort side also idle last weekend.
Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon said: ‘It was disappointing not to start our season against Mid Argyll but it was probably the right decision rather than travel down the road, start the game then have it abandoned.
‘We’ll now focus on Fort William at Mossfield this weekend, weather permitting of course, as the shinty pitches are saturated. Fort William will be on a high after their great year last season but it’s a big jump to premiership shinty and we’ll be well prepared.’
Lovat 6 Kilmallie 0
Kilmallie’s clash with Lovat was reversed to Balgate on Friday afternoon as Canal Parks was unplayable.
New Lovat co-managers Alan MacRae and Jamie Matheson fielded a strong side. Marc MacLachlan has left the club, but Scott MacKenzie returned to play in defence, Drew Howie was in midfield and Greg Matheson was joined in attack by Fraser Heath, Lewis Tawse and Lorne MacKay. Craig Mainland was missing but Martin Mainland, Bailey MacKay and Cameron MacMillan made up the bench.
This was a first match in charge for new Kilmallie boss Martin Stewart, although he had a prior commitment which meant he missed this one. Kilmallie were without key attackers Liam MacDonald and Daniel Stewart through injury and Michael Rodger was suspended. There were starts for Aiden Love, Iain MacIntyre and Frankie Innes with Aaron Sandison, Ben MacKinnon and Jordan Campbell held in reserve.
Lovat were up for the game and went at it from the start. With just 20 seconds gone, Fraser Heath ran onto a ball played out to the touchline on the right with Robbie MacFadyen in chase. Heath touched the ball round his opponent and ran towards goal. With keeper Shane Gillies guarding his near post, Heath played in Lewis Tawse and his effort was deflected for a corner off a Kilmallie foot. Tawse sent the corner to Lorne MacKay who played in Greg Matheson who had found space. Matheson gave the keeper no chance as he hammered the ball low into the net.
And it was Greg Matheson again from the restart as he lost his marker before powering the ball home from the right to make it 2-0 with just two minutes gone.
On 16 minutes, Fraser Heath chased a ball on the right, stopping it going out for a goal-hit. Heath looked up and found Tawse who pushed the ball home.
With five first half minutes remaining, the ball broke to Greg Matheson on the right. He had time to stop the ball, tee up his shot and pick his spot high in the net with another fierce effort which completed his hat-trick.
With Lovat leading 4-0 at the break they introduced Martin Mainland for Graham MacMillan for the second half, with Bailey MacKay replacing Fraser Heath later in the game.
The second half lacked quality but Lovat added two more goals late in the game. A Greg Matheson shot was saved by Shane Gillies but the ball rebounded to Matheson at the edge of the box and he notched his fourth goal of the afternoon.
A minute later, Tawse got his second goal with a shot from the right to make it 6-0.
As well as goal scorers Matheson and Tawse, Scott MacKenzie played well for Lovat.
Kingussie 7 Caberfeidh 1
Champions Kingussie started their bid to retain the title in style as they beat Caberfeidh 7-1 at the Dell.
Savio Genini gave Kingussie the lead on three minutes. James Falconer slipped the ball down the line to Genini on the edge of the ‘D’ and he turned on his forehand before striking the ball through the keeper’s legs from a tight angle on the right.
Caberfeidh levelled a couple of minutes later with 2019 top scorer Craig Morrison opening his account as he turned home a ball from the left.
James Falconer put Kingussie back in front on 12 minutes. Ruaridh Anderson’s ball from deep saw Kingussie break forward. Ryan MacWilliam ran with the ball at the Caberfeidh defence before chipping it to Falconer to his left who took the ball down before tucking it low past the keeper.
Kingussie added a third on 28 minutes when Ruaridh Anderson gathered possession in a deep position and played it to Roddy Young who held the ball up, waiting for a run from Fraser Munro before playing it wide to Savio Genini and his immediate ball inside picked out Munro’s run. The midfielder took the ball in his stride, before hitting a great shot from the left, high across the keeper into the side netting inside the far post.
The home side took a 4-1 lead into the break when Ruaridh Anderson netted on the stroke of half-time. Savio Genini at full forward came deep to get the ball in a central position. Genini tried to find Ruaridh Anderson who was running in from the right. Caberfeidh full back Ryan Simmonds read the pass and got to the ball first. However, Anderson quickly closed him down and his attempted clearance deflected off the Kingussie play-maker’s stick and crept past keeper Iain McCall at his right post.
James Falconer got his second five minutes into the second half, flicking the ball home from a tight angle inside the left of the ‘D’.
It was Savio Genini again on 65 minutes to make it 6-1. The goal came from a corner on the right which was missed by two defenders with Genini scoring on his forehand at the back post, steering the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Ruaridh Anderson got his second with a tidy finish to round off the scoring a minute from time. Thomas Borthwick played the ball out to the left where Genini ran to collect. Genini squared the ball early to Anderson who was running in. He went to strike with his forehand but cut it back, losing his marker, and took another touch by a defender inside the left of the ‘D’ before shooting low past the keeper into the far corner of the net.
Newtonmore 1 Kinlochshiel 0
It became clear midweek the constant rain on the West Coast would leave Kinlochshiel’s new Rèaraig Park unplayable so their match against Newtonmore was switched to the Eilan.
As expected, Owen Fraser started in goal for Newtonmore, taking over from Kenny Ross, and he played well. Newtonmore were without Glen MacKintosh, Evan Menzies and Fraser MacKintosh.
Kinlochshiel added to their squad during the close season with Rhuairaidh MacDonald joining and Oliver MacRae re-signing after a spell with Glasgow Mid Argyll.
It was a bitterly cold day and the only goal of the game came on 20 minutes.
Steven Macdonald’s long ball was taken down expertly by Jamie Robinson who turned Finlay MacRae and got a shot on target which was well saved by Josh Grant. Iain Robinson was quickly onto the rebound though and rounded the keeper before knocking the ball into the net.
Newtonmore have gained the reputation as slow starters in the league so new boss Orsten Gardner will be delighted to have made a winning start.
Fort William P Kyles Athletic P
Newly-promoted Fort William were to welcome seasoned campaigners Kyles Athletic to An Aird for a 1.31pm throw-up which would also have decided the Drew Ferguson Memorial Cup.
However, the match was called off on Saturday morning with surface water on parts of the pitch.
Mowi National Division
Oban Celtic P Skye Camanachd P
With Skye due to leave Portree at 8am, a 7am pitch inspection ruled Mossfield unplayable so the match between Oban Celtic and the islanders was postponed.
Oban Celtic assistant manager Les Kinvig said: ‘The amount of rain we’ve had over recent weeks means the pitches aren’t getting a chance to dry out and the boys are disappointed the weather put paid to things again.
‘There’s not a lot we can do about it though. We’ll now prepare for Lochaber at Spean Bridge this Saturday.’
Strathglass 5 Lochaber 4
Strathglass came from two goals down to edge out Lochaber 5-4 in an end-to-end battle at Cannich.
Lochaber made the better start and took the lead on five minutes with a good strike from Stuart Callison from around the penalty spot, sending the ball into the roof of the net.
The visitors continued to dominate the early exchanges before Strathglass started to create chances.
However, the Spean Bridge men doubled their lead on 25 minutes when, following a good phase of play, a cross from the wing was slotted home by Max Campbell from just outside the box.
Strathglass battled back though and Josh Fraser sparked the comeback when he slotted home a routine ball into the danger area from inside the box.
Strathglass finished the half on top with Josh Fraser grabbing a carbon copy of his opener a minute before the interval to tie the game at 2-2.
Lochaber made a powerful start to the second half but Strathglass weathered the storm and got going again and, after 54 minutes, Penri Jones latched onto a long hit and dispatched the ball into the net from the edge of the ‘D’.
It got better for the hosts four minutes later when Lewis Douglas made it 4-2. The goal came from a free-hit at wing centre which was played high to the back of the box where Douglas fired a clean strike into the net.
Lochaber came back into the mix and there were chances at both ends before Stuart Callison punished a mistake when the home side failed to clear their lines and Callison scored from a tight angle inside the ‘D’. It was now 4-3 with 76 minutes on the clock.
Strathglass restored their two-goal cushion on 82 minutes with the goal of the game. A ball was played down the wing then crossed high to the edge of the box. Ciaran Melens took it in the air and his volley flew into the roof of the net to make it 5-3.
Lochaber pressed during the final five minutes and Stuart Callison completed his hat-trick a minute from time, again from a tight angle close-in.
Strathglass, with Donald Fraser a stand-out at full back, saw out the closing stages to take both points and get new boss Allan MacLeod’s tenure off to a great start.
Glenurquhart 1 Inveraray 0
Inveraray’s match with Glenurquhart was moved to Blairbeg on Thursday when the Winterton was deemed unplayable.
Inveraray travelled for this 3.01pm throw-up without Fraser Watt, who had his appendix out midweek, whilst John Kennedy missed out following a hand injury suffered at work.
Inveraray made a good start, enjoying much of the play for the first 20 minutes but, with heavy underfoot conditions restricting their silky style of shinty, Glenurquhart slowly worked their way into the game.
There were few efforts on goal in the first half with both full backs – Glenurquhart’s John Barr and Ross Montgomery for Inveraray – having good performances.
With Glenurquhart applying more and more pressure, the match became more physical and Inveraray bosses Ruaraidh Graham and Joe Fyfe took Lewis Montgomery from the centre and pushed him back into his usual role in the forward line. Craig Taylor came off and Ali McDonald joined the midfield in a bid to match Glenurquhart’s physicality.
Both teams continued to work hard and the closest to a goal was a Glenurquhart effort which came back off the woodwork.
As the second half got under way, there was little between the teams as both struggled with the conditions.
Both teams made further substitutions to keep fresh legs on the park.
The game’s decisive moment came on 56 minutes when referee Alex MacVicar awarded Glenurquhart a penalty and James MacPherson stepped up to score from the spot.
There were efforts on target at both ends during the remainder of the second half but both keepers – Stuart MacKintosh for the Glen and Inveraray’s Scott MacLachlan – were in fine form so there was no further scoring.
Glenurquhart will be delighted to take all the points as they bid to make a swift return to shinty’s top flight. Inveraray will feel frustrated they didn’t manage to capitalise on periods of sustained pressure but will have to put that behind them as they head north again this weekend to face Skye Camanachd in what could be an important fixture in the promotion race.
Aberdour 0 Beauly 4
It was a big day for Aberdour who played their first match at National Division level against Beauly at Silversands.
Aberdour are missing Cammy McCue this season following his switch to Glasgow Mid Argyll, whist Beauly fielded Ryan MacKay and Robbie Brindle who both made goal scoring returns to the side.
Aberdour knocked Beauly out of last season’s Balliemore Cup at the same venue in the first round but there was to be no repeat as Sean Stewart on 12 minutes and Ryan MacKay on 19 minutes gave Beauly a 2-0 interval lead.
Beauly, with a strong wind in their favour, could have been further ahead had it not been for Jack MacDonald’s effort off the post and great goalkeeping from Aberdour’s Craig Callaghan.
Aberdour had the elements after the re-start which made for a more even contest.
The hosts struggled to create clear chances though, whilst Beauly made the most of their opportunities and Robbie Brindle on 70 minutes and youngster Euan MacCormick on 83 minutes completed the win.
Mowi North Division 1
The Newtonmore second team began their bid for another league championship with a thumping 12-0 victory over their Kinlochshiel counterparts.
The Kingussie colts were too strong for the Caberfeidh colts, winning 9-0 at Castle Leod.
The encounter between the Skye Camanachd second team and the Fort William second team was postponed on Friday afternoon after persistent rain left Pairc nan Laoch unplayable.
The game between the Lovat reserves and newly-promoted Lochcarron at Balgate was postponed following the death of Lochcarron man Peter Munro.
Peter’s father Bob Munro has been part of Lochcarron’s training and coaching team for almost 25 years and the game was called off as a mark of respect.
Glengarry were without a fixture in this 11-team league but welcome Skye to Craigard this Saturday.
Mowi South Division 1
With water lying on the field at Ganavan, there was frustration for Lochside Rovers and the Glasgow Mid Argyll second team as their match was another weather casualty.
Lochside are away to Ballachulish this weekend.
Col Glen and Bute were left sidelined as a waterlogged field at Glendaruel led to the cancellation of their opening match.
The Kyles Athletic reserves meeting with Tayforth was called off on Wednesday as the pitch at Tighnabruaich was unplayable and it wasn’t possible to reverse the fixture.
Mowi North Division 2
The newly-reformed Lochaber second team made a winning return to league action with a 4-0 victory over the Strathglass second team at Spean Bridge.
Natalie MacDonald played at wing centre for Lochaber, while Anna Berardelli made an appearance from the bench.
Lochaber’s Neil MacDonald and George Phimister from Strathglass lined up against each other in the middle of the park.
David Langan scored the only goal of the first half, beating keeper Ally MacAdams to give Lochaber a 1-0 lead after the first 45 minutes.
Shaun Kane and Rolands Friemanis added to Lochaber’s tally before David Langan scored his second goal of the game to confirm a morale-boosting win.
Elsewhere in the division, the Beauly colts came from behind to beat the Inverness colts 5-3 at Braeview Park.
Boleskine got their season off to a winning start as they beat Lewis Camanachd 4-2 in their 1.01pm throw-up at Smith Park.
Strathspey Camanachd and Aberdeen University were left idle as an unplayable pitch ruled out their match at Grantown Grammar School.
The Kilmallie second team were without a fixture in this nine team division.
Mowi South Division 2
Ardnamurchan’s meeting with the Oban Celtic second team was called off on Saturday morning because of an unplayable field.
The Oban side will try again this Saturday at home to their Bute counterparts.
Elsewhere in the division, the games between Kilmory and the Inveraray second team and the Bute reserves and the Aberdour reserves were also postponed.
Glenorchy did not have a scheduled fixture in this seven team league but host Inveraray seconds this Saturday.
Mowi National Division clubs were invited to take part in a new round-robin 10-a-side tournament for the WCA National League Shield at the Aviemore astro on Sunday March 8 which was International Women’s Day.
Aberdour, Badenoch, Lovat and Glenurquhart travelled. Badenoch were unbeaten throughout the competition, without conceding a goal, to take the shield.
Aberdour were runners-up, finishing ahead of Glenurquhart on goal difference.