Skye and Badenoch set to resume rivalry in women’s shinty season opener

Badenoch (left) and Skye (right) will resume their rivalry today (Saturday) in the season opener at Pairc Nan Laoch in Portree. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

On 6th October 2018, Skye Camanachd Ladies were crowned National Division 1 Champions having retained their title courtesy of a breathless and electric 5-5 draw against their closest rivals Badenoch Ladies at Pairc Nan Laoch.

Little over a month earlier in what was the first women’s shinty final to be broadcast live on TV – on BBC ALBA –  Badenoch overcame the Islanders  4-1 on their home turf the Dell in Kingussie to capture the coveted Valerie Fraser Camanachd Cup and wrest it away from the holders.

With the league champions and cup holders set to resume their fantastic rivalry in Skye today in the opening fixture of the Women’s’ National Division 1 season, the Free Press caught up with Skye coach Robbie Gordon, and Badenoch coach Scott Campbell to gauge their thoughts ahead of the 2019 season and Saturday’s mouth-watering clash.

The season opener

Robbie Gordon: “Badenoch is probably the team to beat this year. They have done really well and improved a huge amount. I think Scott Campbell has lifted them a lot.”

Scott Campbell:  ” I think Skye will be well up for it. I know that they have had a friendly with Glenurquhart and believe they have maintained some sort of training through the winter as well.

“They will probably be very much up for it and possibly less rusty than us. I am hoping it will be a very close and competitive game much like last season’s matches.

“I don’t know what Robbie said – but we would have certainly preferred something a wee bit nicer to break us in and get the confidence up – that’s not the way of it and we’ll just deal with it.”

RG: “I would have loved to have had a few easier games because we are notoriously slow starters, but it is what it is, and we just have to deal with it.

“It’s a home game which maybe helps a wee bit, but no, I would like to have got a couple of games under our belts before we had to tackle Badenoch. It’s not to be, though, so we just have to get up and get on.”

Rhianna Kirk (Skye) and Kirsty Deans (Badenoch) are both fully committed during an aerial challenge. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

Last season

RG: “The Valerie Fraser (Cup) wasn’t great for ourselves. We had a couple of girls that were injured and not well on the day, I’m not making any excuses, but six out of that team weren’t 100 per cent on that day, so I was quite chuffed how they played because I didn’t expect them to do as well as they did as they were under the weather.

“The last game of the season was a fairer game as it ebbed and flowed. It was probably one of the best games of shinty I have seen, to be honest. We came out with a draw, we should have actually won it.”

SC: “We were frustrated by how the last game of the season panned out last year because I thought that we had done enough to pinch it, but Sarah Jane was absolutely phenomenal in goal and we didn’t take our chances, and Skye did.

“So it was 5-5, and think it was a mouth-watering finale – and one the WCA -Women’s Camanachd Association – and a lot of the fans would have wanted.

“The bottom line is we have a lot of respect for Skye and what they have done, and what Skye will continue to do. You know they are champions and they proved that last year and deservedly so.”

The teams embrace after a fantastic encounter last season. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

Looking ahead

SG: “I think it will be all to play for. If we were to come away with no points tomorrow against Skye) the season would not be over.  We are not going up there for anything over than to try and get points, but I think it would be foolish and naive to think if we were to lose to Skye tomorrow all is lost.”

RG: “We have to keep upping our game because everyone else is upping theirs – we have three or four teams in our league where you couldn’t pick  between them until after the game – it’s that tight.  It’s good competition, though.”

Women’s Camanachd National Division 1 Fixtures

Saturday 23rd February: Skye Ladies v Badenoch – 12 pm at Pairc Nan Laoch

Sunday 24 February: Aberdour v Lochaber – 1 pm; Strathspey v Glasgow Mid Argyll – 1.30 pm.

Article by Adam Gordon