The last major silverware of the shinty season is up for grabs this Saturday – and fittingly the cottages.com MacTavish Cup final will feature two teams who already have grand slam trophies to their name in 2021.
Kinlochshiel, the Camanachd Cup winners, come face-to-face with Kingussie, holders of the MacAulay Cup and champions of the premier league the last time it was contested in 2019.
For Shiel, cup glory would cap a truly historic season and complete a career ‘slam’ for several in the squad as well as their manager Johnston Gill, following the victories in the Camanachd Cup this year; the premier league in 2017 and the MacAulay Cup in 2016 and 2018.
However, Kingussie – still smarting from a Camanachd Cup defeat to Lovat back in early September – are out to end the campaign on a high and capture a trophy they have won 27 times, but not since 2011.
Keith MacRae, Kinlochshiel captain said: “It’s obviously been a challenging season for shinty, so it’s been great for Shiel to come back to it and have cup success.
“We haven’t won the MacTavish before and it would be a brilliant achievement to be able to bring that back to Dornie too, but Kingussie won’t make it easy for us, I’m sure.”
Shiel will be without stalwart Paul MacRae – who suffered a shattered knee cap in their recent match at Lochaber, leaving Kingussie midfielder James Hutchison to fly the flag for the over-40s as he aims to win yet another trophy having been a fixture in the Badenoch club’s first team since the 1990s.
Curbing Kingussie’s free scoring attack of James Falconer, Savio Genini, Ruaridh Anderson and Roddy Young will be key for Shiel – though the Wester Ross men will take heart from their defensive display in the Camanachd final. On that form, few forwards will relish going up against Finlay MacRae, Duncan Matheson, Mark Macdonald and Conor Cormack, who formed such a formidable back line in Oban.
Rory MacKeachan, Kingussie captain said: “We were disappointed with the result in the Scottish but we have dusted ourselves down and are eager to win the cottages.com MacTavish Cup. As a group we have yet to win the MacTavish and it would be one more cup than we managed in 2019, so it would still be a step in the right direction for us
“ The end goal is obviously a grand slam. I’d say two out of three cups and beating our local rivals four times would amount to a pretty successful year though, especially for the age of the squad.”
Saturday’s final is not televised, so the only chance to see it will to be head for Bught Park in Inverness. The final starts at 2pm and tickets can be purchased at www.shinty.com with adult tickets available from £15 and concession from £10 plus booking fee.
Elsewhere this weekend, Kyles Athletic and Lochside Rovers meet for the Bullough Cup, rounding off all the cup competitions for 2021.
Article by Keith MacKenzie