Kinlochshiel Ladies coach Alex MacInnes has said that victory for the team in Saturday’s Mowi Challenge Cup Final against Lovat would be “huge” for the players and everyone associated with the club.
Saturday’s showpiece at the Eilan will be the third meeting of the clubs this season, with the previous two matches having produced 10 or more goals on each occasion.
The most recent clash resulted in the teams sharing the spoils following a 5-5 draw at Balgate on 21st August.
But it was Lovat who claimed bragging rights in the first match up by recording a 6-4 win on the road.
However, positioned in second place it is Shiel who are flying highest of the sides in the league. Last Sunday (28th August) the club recorded its ninth victory of the season in North Division 2 to move within a point of leaders Glenurquhart, while Lovat currently sit in fifth, albeit with two games in hand.
Speaking ahead of the ladies first ever major final, the Reds coach praised the progress of his young team and backed them to bring the cup home to Rearaig.
Alex MacInnes said: “It is huge. I was just an enthusiastic guy on the sidelines when the girls started off with Colin and John Nostie at the astroturf at Plockton.
“The mums and dads that pushed the forming of the team were all about getting a side to play in the Challenge Cup.
“The team has obviously changed since then, but it has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years.
“We had three or four games last year, a few more the year before, so it was hard for the players to pick up where they left off before Covid, but they have gone from strength to strength.
“I would really love to see them pick up the cup on Saturday.”
Lovat, meanwhile, will also be looking to their up and coming talents to make their mark in the final with star players Fiona Urquhart and Laura Gallacher set to miss the big match due to other commitments.
Across the sides two league matches Fiona Urquhart (8) and Laura Gallacher (3) have plundered all 11 of the club’s goals against Shiel.
“We have a couple of big players missing – Laura Gallacher and Fiona Urquhart – so it is time for the younger girls to step up and see what they can do,” Lovat coach Raymond Rennie told the Free Press.
“Kinlochshiel are a very good side. They are very skillful, young and fit. It will be hard for us.
“The start of the season was about competing again and seeing what we can do, but we have gone on a good run in the cup to get to the final.”
Saturday’s final will also be something of a family affair for both the managers as they explained.
Raymond Rennie said: “It will be a family occasion. My wife Carrie plays in goal, and Maisie, my daughter, turns 13 the day before the final, so she will be able to play, and we’ll draft her back into the team
“Every day of the week for us is about shinty.”
Alex added: “My daughter Eilidh’s involvement drew me to the girls team, but then I jumped at the chance to help out. They are a great bunch, keen to learn, they are very respectful to each other, and we have a good following now. It is really heartening to see the number of mums and dads and the local community coming out to support the team.
“It is really exciting to be in the final of the Challenge Cup, which is the competition which kicked off the team, and here we are now on the cusp of bringing it back to Rearaig.
“It is not something we are taking for granted, though. Lovat will give us a good game. But the girls are up for it, and I think they are more than capable of doing it on Saturday.”
Saturday’s MOWI Challenge Cup final at the Eilan, Newtonmore throws-up at 1.45pm
Article by Adam Gordon