Shinty round-up – Saturday January 8 2022

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Oban Camanachd bring in the New Year

Oban saw its first senior shinty action of 2022 when Oban Camanachd’s young team took on the Oban Camanachd veterans in their annual New Year’s Day exhibition match at Mossfield and it took a penalty shoot-out to separate the sides.

It had been a wet morning in Oban but the rain eased ahead of the 12.30pm throw up. With head groundsman Iain Hay on holiday, Bill MacAdam ensured the pitch, if a little heavy, was in as good a condition as possible given the time of year.

Supporters were allowed to attend in the socially-distanced manner we have become accustomed to and a good-sized crowd gathered around the touchline. Supporters were asked to take a lateral flow test before arrival in accordance with current government guidelines.

The battle lines were broadly drawn at over and under 30 years of age. This encounter always attracts a number of players who haven’t taken the field for some time and this year was no different. Aidan McIntyre took charge of the veterans and called on Gavin Stobbart in goal as well as Matt Rippon, David Lafferty and Jonny Will. Lewis Cameron and Iain Campbell also played.

Malcolm Clark led the young team and whilst he was without the services of Daniel Sloss and Daniel MacCuish, Craig Easton returned from a knee injury which limited his playing time last year. Easton showed no ill-effects with his knee standing up well on the heavy pitch. Innes Jackson and Blair MacFarlane also took the opportunity to shine for the young side.

An entertaining first half finished scoreless with Daniel Cameron putting in some telling challenges, re-enforcing the mantra that he doesn’t play friendly matches.

Daniel MacVicar put the young team ahead after the re-start. Matt Rippon, who played well throughout, scored the equaliser and although a second from Daniel MacVicar put the young steam back in front with around 10 minutes remaining, Daniel Lafferty, who scored Oban Camanachd’s goal in their 5-1 defeat to Newtonmore in the 2019 Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final, was on target to make it 2-2.

Referee Alex MacVicar then took the contest to a penalty shoot-out and Gavin Stobbart showed his worth, making a couple of excellent penalty saves as the veterans won 3-0 with Aidan McIntyre, Matt Rippon and Michael MacQueen all converting from the spot.

The game was competitive throughout with three players – David Cameron, Scott McKillop and Jonny Will – in need of a hospital visit for a few stitches. Cameron was cut above the lip whilst McKillop suffered a deep cut above the knee with Will’s elbow requiring attention.

Gareth Evans, the new manager of Oban Camanachd.

Speaking after the match, new Oban Camanachd manager Gareth Evans said: ‘It was great to see so many boys swinging a stick again so this was very much a worthwhile exercise and it was good to see the players getting stuck in.

‘We start training on Thursday January 13 and with the new competitive season beginning on Saturday March 5, it will be good to get going.’

Former Oban Camanachd player Fraser Inglis, a member of the 1996 Camanachd Cup winning side, joins the training team.

MacMillan appointed Oban Camanachd assistant

Oban Camanachd boss Gareth Evans has confirmed Iain ‘Scally’ MacMillan will be his assistant manager as he puts the finishing touches to his backroom team ahead of the new shinty season.

Gareth Evans said: ‘Iain has been with me since I started with Lochside in 2015 and makes a huge contribution. He was a very skilful player in his day and is a calming influence on the touchline.

‘We’ll have a meeting with the players in early January and go over our expectations for the 2022 shinty season.’

Scotland forward Andrew MacCuish, who sat out most of last season, has committed to playing this term to add to the manager’s attacking options, whilst all the players from last year stay on.

Duncan MacMillan and Andrew Pearson will lead Lochside Rovers into the new season and there is other help available that they can call on.

Oban Camanachd’s pre-season programme is taking shape. The club is still trying to organise a fixture for Saturday February 5, but have a confirmed clash with Lochaber at Mossfield a week later.

The Oban side then travel to the Winterton to face Inveraray on Saturday February 19 before rounding off their pre-season programme against Fort William on Saturday February 26, with the venue yet to be decided.

Oban Celtic plan pre-season

The Oban Celtic first team’s pre-season programme is almost complete.

Dougie MacIntyre’s side will host Lochaber on Saturday February 5 and they travel to Tighnabruaich to play Kyles Athletic a week later.

Glasgow Mid Argyll visit Oban on Saturday February 19, whilst Celtic are looking to secure an away fixture for Saturday February 26.

The new competitive shinty season starts on Saturday March 5.

Kilmallie prepare for Premiership

Martin Stewart’s Kilmallie first team squad has scheduled four pre-season games ahead of their return to the Mowi Premiership.

Kilmallie will face Ballachulish on Saturday February 5 before playing Inverness the week after.

Skye Camanachd will provide the opposition on Saturday February 19 when the sides will contest the Thomas Ferguson Memorial Cup which Kilmallie won last year. The pre-season programme concludes against neighbours Lochaber.

The match against Skye takes place in Portree whilst the location for the other three encounters will be decided nearer the time, dependent on pitch availability.

Kilmallie’s pre-season training started on Tuesday January 11 and the club will train on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week thereafter.

Kilmallie manager Martin Stewart watches his side play Kingussie in the 2021 Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup quarter final, played at The Dell. Photograph: Neil Paterson.
Lochaber Ladies look for new coaching team

Lochaber Ladies are on the look-out for a new coaching team.

The Spean Bridge-based side have three teams competing in three divisions. Their first team plays in the Mowi National League, with the seconds in Mowi National League 2 and the development squad competing in the Mowi West Division.

Pre-season training is organised and anyone interested in being involved should contact the club via its Facebook page.

MacRae takes charge at Glasgow Mid Argyll

Glasgow Mid Argyll (GMA) has confirmed Alan MacRae is its new head coach.

MacRae replaces former Oban Celtic player Mark Bain in the managerial hot-seat and he will be assisted by Neil Mclay as the side prepare for the 2022 shinty season in the Mowi Premiership.

MacRae brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously undertaken management positions at Lovat, Inverness and Beauly before returning to Lovat. He also managed the Scotland U21 squad.

Angus MacInnes and former Kilmallie player Nick Lavin will manage the GMA second team.

Former Kingussie stalwart Rory Fraser will provide individual player analysis and coaching advice, whilst pre-season fitness training will be led by Ewan Murray with physio duties undertaken by Brian Slattery.

The GMA first team open its pre-season programme at home to Inveraray on Saturday February 12.

They travel to Oban a week later to play Oban Celtic before another visit north takes them to Kingussie on Saturday February 26.

Lovat P Beauly P

The popular Lovat Cup clash between Lovat and Beauly, scheduled for Balgate on Monday January 3, was postponed.

The match usually attracts a huge crowd from across the country but the decision was taken due to recent updated government covid guidelines. Both clubs agreed not to contest the trophy, noting their disappointment but acknowledging their role in helping keep their communities safe.

The 2021 Lovat Cup wasn’t contested either because of covid restrictions. Lovat are the holders after Greg Matheson’s brace helped them beat Beauly 3-1 in 2020 to win the trophy for the fifth successive season.

Shinty loses two stalwarts

Shinty has lost two stalwarts following the passing of John MacDougall and Dennis Swanson.

John MacDougall died peacefully on Wednesday December 29 2021. John was in his 90th year and looked after Kinlochshiel’s financial affairs for almost a third of his life.

He regularly attended home games until recently and although he could not travel to last season’s finals, he was delighted when Kinlochshiel won the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup and the cottages.com MacTavish Cup for the first time in 2021.

In his role as financial director, John played a major part in the significant changes at the club, especially when dealing with the construction of the new pitch at Rèaraig. His contribution to Kinlochshiel was recognised when he was made Chieftain in 2016.

One of Inverness shinty club’s best known shinty stalwarts, Dennis Swanson, died a day later at home on Wednesday December 30 2021. He was 96 and had been ill for a short time.

Dennis was always at the Bught Park cheering on his beloved Inverness and had a wealth of stories about the history of shinty in the town and beyond.

Dennis captained Inverness to a 2-1 victory over Oban Celtic to lift the Torlundy Cup in 1951, scoring the winning goal just a year after the Highland Capital side went down 2-1 to the same Oban Celtic side in the Macaulay Cup Final.

He played a key role when Inverness won the Camanachd Cup for the one and only time in 1952, coming from two goals down to beat Oban Celtic 3-2 in the final at Old Anniesland, Glasgow. Dennis missed the final through injury but was still awarded a winner’s medal.

Dennis was also a well-known and well-regarded shinty referee, officiating at games all over the country.

An Inverness shinty club spokesperson said: ‘This is yet another sad blow for the shinty community and the town and, of course, Dennis’s family in particular.

‘Dennis is one of those people who always seemed to be there and it will be very difficult to come to terms with the fact he will no longer be with us. He contributed so much to our efforts.’