Shinty history beckons for either Skye or Caberfeidh on Saturday as the two success-starved clubs meet in Portree with a place in the cottages.com MacTavish Cup final at stake.
The tragic death of Donnie Martin brought a halt to shinty on the island over the past fortnight, but to resume action by claiming a place in a major final would be a fitting tribute to a hugely influential club figure, said Skye manager Kenny Macleod.
He added this week: “It has been a very difficult, and emotional time for everyone associated with the club – Donnie was integral to everything at Skye Camanachd.
“What a tribute it would be to get to a MacTavish final, and hopefully we can channel the emotion into something positive. It would be nice to give people a bit of a lift after a hard couple of weeks.”
Ross MacKinnon returns after a bout of Covid to an otherwise fully-fit Skye squad.
Their defence – which has conceded just three goals in six matches so far – will be key against a free-scoring Cabers attack containing Craig Morrison, who has already scored 10 goals this season.
Skye were the inaugural winners of the MacTavish Cup competition in 1898, but that is their only success to date. Their last final appearance came 32 years ago, in the same year as they lifted the Camanachd Cup.
For Caberfeidh, meanwhile, it has been 85 years since the old trophy was last in Strathpeffer.
Cabers manager Jodi Gorski, boss of the club for the past six years, reckons there will be little between the teams.
“I’d class it as 50-50,” he added. “There’s not a lot between the bottom half of the premier league and the top of the national division, although the premier league is a higher standard to be playing in each week.
“That experience will help us, but then Skye have home advantage so it will be a hard one to call.
“It’s our third MacTavish Cup semi final in the past five seasons, so we have been close. It would be nice to make the next step and get to the final.
“At the moment Kingussie are the top side, but below that there is not an awful lot between many teams in shinty. There are chances to get to finals that in the past weren’t there. Hopefully we can take them.”
Although Craig Morrison has been the main source of goals there are others, like Kevin Bartlett, who can also contribute and the Cabers boss has been pleased with an upturn in recent results after losing three of their first four matches.
“Our squad was stretched at the start of the season through injuries but we’ve been improving since getting a few players to return,” added Gorski who’ll welcome back Kieran MacPherson this weekend. The midfielder, a recent signing from Kingussie, had been out of action after being involved in a car crash.
Ben MacDonald returns from a spell offshore, with youngster Kyle Grant also fit after a ham-string trouble.
Cabers will bring a supporters bus west, and a decent crowd is expected for what is the biggest match at Pairc nan Laoch in several years.
Throw up in Portree is at 2.30pm, with the match broadcast live on Radio Skye
Article by Keith MacKenzie