The inaugural John MacKinnon Memorial Shinty Sixes played on 28th December at the Portree High School all-weather pitch was a great success despite one or two early-morning setbacks and a cold, wet start to the day, according to event organiser Davie MacVicar.
The tournament was named in memory of local haulier and Skye Camanachd ice-President, sponsor and supporter John MacKinnon who died in a tragic accident in December 2011 and whose son Ewen “Crossal” MacKinnon was a member of Skye’s 1990 Camanachd Cup winning team.
The competition was sponsored by DA MacLennan, Kyleakin, and Highland Industrial Supplies, Inverness, with match balls supplied by the Shinty Shop.
“It brought together all the different elements that are part of the shinty community,” MacVicar said. “You had people wanting to see fathers playing alongside their daughters, and whole families playing together. Caley MacLean, for example, probably never thought he would ever have the chance to play in the same team as his daughter Abby aged just 11.
“We had the Nicolsons from Inverness, Gallachers and Mathesons from Kiltarlity; the MacRaes from Achmore, the MacRaes from Shiel, the Falconers from Shiel; the Cushnies from Lochcarron, the Cowies, Pringles, Gibbs, MacVicars and MacLeans from Portree; the MacDonalds from Braes, the Grants from Portree, the Morrisons from Kyleakin, the MacInneses from Totescore and the Pilchers from Contin.
“And then there was the social aspect to it, with people desperate for sporting occasions at this time of the year when they are all in holiday spirit.
“All in all, I think it was a fitting tribute to John, particularly with his granddaugter Elaine playing alongside his grandson Iain and taking the field against their Uncle Ewen, John’s son, in the semi-final.”
A total of 15 teams took part in the tournament, and under the rules each team had to include a player over 45 not currently playing, a female player and a player under 17. An extra point was awarded to any team with a goal scored by a female player.
The competition comprised two leagues, one with eight teams and one with seven. In the seven-team League One the winners were John Finlayson’s Golden Oldies on 11 points, with Laura Gallacher’s Team Gallacher from Kiltarlity finishing runners-up on the same nine points as Davie MacVicar’s RU Over 45 team but winning through by virtue of a better goal difference. In League Two the winners were the Old Boys of the Dell whose progress on 12 points was guaranteed by the goalscoring exploits of Badenoch and Strathspey ladies’ star Kirsty Deans. The runners-up were Iain Nicolson’s Crossal & Co team from Lovat on 11 points.
The two semi-finals saw Crossal & Co with Iain and Elaine Nicolson line up against the Golden Oldies and their uncle Ewen MacKinnon, and Team Gallacher facing the Old Boys of the Dell from Kingussie.
In the first semi-final the Golden Oldies and Crossal & Co couldn’t be separated and the game ended goalless at full time and also after five extra minutes. With penalties being taken by the lady, under-17 and over-45, the decisive one was scored by Willie Cowie to see the Golden Oldies through to the final.
In the other semi-final, despite going one up courtesy of a Davie Anderson goal, Kingussie lost 2-1 to Team Gallacher who replied with two Greg Matheson strikes.
The tournament was won by Team Gallacher, an all-family outfit made up of over-45 James Gallacher, his daughter Laura Gallacher, his nephews Greg Matheson and Jamie Matheson, Jimmy’s brother Fraser Gallacher, his nephews Michael MacKenzie, Rory Gallacher and Danny Kelly (with Rory and Danny both under 17). In the final they enjoyed a 4-1 win over the Golden Oldies — a side made up of past and present Skye players John “Slippy” Finlayson (over 45) Angie Murchison, Caley MacLean, Ewen “Crossal” MacKinnon, Peter Gordon, Willie Cowie, Will Cowie (under-17) and Abby MacLean.
Will Cowie put the Golden Oldies ahead early in the first half with a blistering drive but just before half time Greg Matheson equalised. With no scoring in the second half, the match went into extra time which would eventually prove crucial for the Oldies. Greg Matheson put Team Gallacher in front with his second goal of the game and then brother Jamie scored a third, as playing in two consecutive games with extra time took its toll on the Golden Oldies. Greg Matheson rounded off the scoring to complete his second hat-trick of the day and make the final score 4 1.
The award for player of the tournament went to the Premier League’s top goalscorer and current Scotland international player Greg Matheson from Team Gallacher; the female player of the tournament was Kirsty Deans from Kingussie, who scored more goals during the tournament than teammate Ronald Ross (admittedly, Ronald played mostly in defence for the Old Boys of the Dell); and Will Cowie, son of Skye’s Camanachd Cup winning scorer Willie, was the under-17 player of the tournament; the veteran player of the tournament was Skye’s Camanachd Cup winning captain Caley MacLean.
Davie MacVicar expressed thanks to referees Donnie Martin and John Angus Gillies and scorer Alastair Bruce as well as all the ladies involved in making soup and sandwiches and helping out on the day.