The latest instalment in one of shinty’s burgeoning rivalries takes place in Kingussie this Saturday as Skye and Badenoch meet in the Mowi Valerie Fraser Camanachd Cup final.
In the women’s game the dynamic duo sit peerless from their competitors – but when they face each other the margins tend to be fine.
Last season it was one major honour apiece for the teams – Badenoch lifting the cup, but Skye taking revenge in the league.
And this year the sides are on course for a league play-off – having each won one of their respective national division matches against each other, as well as sweeping aside every other rival in sight.
Skye captain Ilana Paterson hopes the pain of last year’s cup final defeat at Badenoch’s hands can spur the islanders to win back the cup they lifted in 2017.
“I’m feeling confident with the team, we’ve been working hard all season. especially in the weeks leading up to the final,” said Paterson, who will playing in her fifth final.
“It’s going to be tough as all the girls know, but we are prepared for that. If you look back at the matches we’ve played against Badenoch last season and in the league this season, it’s been fast paced and end to end stuff.
“It would mean everything to win the cup. Losing out last year has made us even more determined to do well this year.”
The 23-year old skipper, who can play in defence or midfield, said both teams carried threat all over the park, though she highlighted Kirsty Deans, player of the match in the 2018 final, as the player likely to make Badenoch tick.
Badenoch captain Zoe Reid, who scored two goals in her team’s 4-1 triumph last season, is hoping her team can make it two in a row in front of an expectant home crowd at The Dell.
She added: “Ourselves and Skye have had some great games against each other in the past two years – there’s not been much in it. The final last year may have ended 4-1, but it had been 1-1 until the last few minutes. The final outcome didn’t really reflect the game.
“This year in the league we won up in Skye, but then Skye won the return. It’s a hard one to call, but we all expect it to be close.”
21-year-old Reid is aiming to follow in the footsteps of her father Neil, who skippered Kingussie to Camanachd Cup success in 1988.
Her cousins Jeanette and Elizabeth MacGregor are also in a squad which looks to the outstanding Kirsty Deans – who has 41 goals to her name so far this season – for goal threat.
Roma Fraser, the daughter of Kingussie legend Rory – and who last week represented the Scotland under-18 rugby sevens squad at the European championships in Poland – is a key defensive figure whose performance in last year’s final was pivotal is restricting chances for the free-scoring Skye attack.
Reid also predicted a bright future for the latest Borthwick to come off an incredible family production line of shinty talent – 15-year old Hope, the son of former Kingussie defender Ian.
Skye’s Lorna MacRae – who has bagged 44 goals this season – and Caitlin MacLean were pinpointed by Reid as players to watch in a squad that has hit the net more than 100 times already in 2019.
The Valerie Fraser match throws up at 4.05pm at the Dell in Kingussie and will be screened live on BBC Alba.
Before that, Inverness and Lovat meet at 1.45pm to contest the Mowi Challenge Cup.
Article by Keith MacKenzie