Shinty’s governing body has pledged to “monitor and review” the game’s competition structure, in light of a series of early-season call-offs due to team-raising difficulties.
Last weekend Skye were handed a walkover in the opening round of the Balliemore Cup — the game’s intermediate cup competition — after opponents Strachur were unable to muster enough players willing to travel north.
In the Sutherland Cup Aberdour forfeited the tie at Lochbroom, while Glenurquhart were handed straight passage into the second round after Glasgow Mid Argyll were unable to raise a team for the trip to Drumnadrochit.
These call-offs follow early-season league cancellations caused by player shortages in the reserve teams of Kinlochshiel, Kilmallie and Bute. Meanwhile, in national division one — a new league created with a view to raising standards and increasing competition levels — Bute were unable to send a team to play their match with Fort William on 15th March.
The Camanachd Association’s chief operating officer, Torquil MacLeod, said issues surrounding the forfeiting of games would form part of an ongoing review of shinty’s league and cup structure.
He added: “It’s something we’ll always monitor, but overall there are more teams competing in league and cup competitions this season — that is the positive news.”
Mr MacLeod said an idea to regionalise the early round of cup competitions — in order to avoid, as in the case of Strachur and Skye, matches between teams over 200 miles apart — had recently been mooted.
“It’s a suggestion, but while that sort of thing might work geographically, it might not work so well competitively,” he added. “Some might feel that regionalisation makes it easier for some teams to get to the latter stages of competition, than it would be for others.
“I also know other teams have been unable to fulfil games due to matches clashing with the Easter school holidays. That’s the sort of thing we always look to avoid when scheduling junior competitions, but it is now affecting senior teams with young squads as well.”
The rules state that when a club is unable to fulfil a cup tie, their opponents are simply granted passage to the next stage and there are no fines.
In league matches in the Orion Premiership, National Division One, North and South area Division One, and North Division Two, clubs unable to raise a team are docked two points, but the fixture is rescheduled at a later date.
In North Divison Three and South Division Two, clubs unable to fulfil fixtures see the points awarded to the opposition.