Bute refuse national division slot, leading to hunt for replacement

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Bute’s Hector Whitelaw, in action against Kinlochshiel a couple of seasons back

The search is now on for a club to fill a vacancy in shinty’s national second tier after Bute confirmed they would not take part in the division in 2015.

The islanders finished bottom of the national first division last year — after a difficult season in which they amassed just one point from 14 games. The Rothesay club had seemed set for relegation, but league reconstruction plans — which extended the premiership from eight teams to 10 — then offered them a reprieve. Having decided they would rather regroup and rebuild in the area leagues, however, Bute’s committee voted that the club should play their shinty in the south first-division next year.

This week the Camanachd Association said they would now look down the area leagues to offer the vacant place.
In the south, the runners-up to promoted Ballachulish were Kyles Athletic reserves. But, with second teams not in the frame for a national league place, Oban Celtic would seem the most likely candidates. Should they refuse then Strathglass, third in North Division One behind Newtonmore reserves and champions Skye, would be next in the frame.

Torquil MacLeod, the Camanachd Association’s chief operating officer, said he was confident the void would be filled.

“Bute’s decision wasn’t unexpected,” Mr MacLeod said. “They had a tough season last year, and they have decided their development will be better served by taking a step back.

“That now leaves an opportunity for someone else to make the step up. We aren’t unduly worried about getting the slot filled. In the first instance we’d like a south team to come up, but if that’s not possible we’ll go to a team from the north.”

Mr MacLeod confirmed that Glenorchy had entered the national division — ending speculation that the Dalmally club may also opt for a return to the area leagues.

MEANWHILE, Skye Camanachd have confirmed a new approach to the management of their first and second teams for the 2015 season.

Both will be looked after by a single management team.

The Skye Camanachd first team will will continue to be led by John MacLeod and his management team of Davie Pringle, Aonghas MacDonald, Donnie MacDonald and Douglas MacDougall. David Pringle will take a lead role in looking after the reserves — though all four of the others in the coaching team will also be involved.