Early-season signs of healthy times for shinty
In the Premier League at the weekend, Inveraray beat their neighbours, Glenorchy, by a comfortable 7-0 scoreline. Russell MacKinlay's hat-trick, followed by doubles from Euan MacMurdo and Garry MacPherson, finished the newcomers off.
Kyles Athletic also managed seven goals, with the concession of one, against Lovat. Roddie MacDonald (2), Dunky Kerr, Fraser MacDonald, Grant Irvine (2) and Thomas Whyte all got their name on the scoresheet, with Greg Matheson grabbing Lovat's only goal.
Newtonmore continued their good form with a 4-1 win over Kilmallie. Kilmallie led at the break through Liam MacDonald, but the Caol side could not stop goals from David Cheyne, Danny Macrae (2) and Glen MacIntosh in the second half.
Fort William welcomed Oban Camanachd at An Aird. There was a very strong wind blowing from the town centre across Inverlochy side, with Fort's skipper, Duncan Rodger, winning the toss to take the first-half advantage.
With huge hitting and great link-up play from Fort, Oban Camanachd struggled to disperse the ball out of defence for most of the first period. Youngster Ryan Campbell got his first senior goal followed by a second shortly after, leading Fort into half time 2-0.
Fortunately for us, the wind seemed to die down in the second half. Oban's forwards were now getting more of the ball, but the Fort defence stood tight and were happy for another clean sheet and both points in the bag. Fort finished up 2-0 winners.
Shinty is definitely developing and growing, especially at grassroots level. This has been predominantly down to the hard work of the Camanachd Association and sportscotland funding to create jobs and coaching positions.
With shinty finding and fighting it's way into the central belt over the past decade, it seems to be sustaining a healthy position. In fact, when recently helping out a Glasgow youth team, a shinty ball rolled in my direction. When I picked it up, I was horrified to see a Celtic Football Club emblem printed into the leather. However, if shinty is going to flourish and keep appealing to the cities' youths and beyond then who am I to say what is right and what is wrong in promoting the sport.
This got me thinking about the development of sponsorships and such like for the sport. Shinty is an amateur sport, but I'm sure many of the wives and girlfriends will tell you the time and effort given by most of their men takes them away for many hours a week with no payment. Everyone gives up their time and limbs for no money, few perks and sometimes a smile that would give Shane MacGowan's a run for his money.
So is it possible to get shinty players sponsored? I had an idea that involved my new-found love for my helmet. If a player wanted to wear his/her helmet then this would be a perfect opportunity for an advetisment along the side or on top of it.
With the BBC filming four live games a year, this potentially has the marketing of 360 hours, before extra-time, for sponsors. This could be up to the player or club to contact local businesses or aim higher to the larger corporate companies for sponsorship. Why not? Do you think anyone would be interested in using shinty to promote their brand? In fact, I'm off to phone Coca-Cola right now. I'll update you on my progress next week.
Looking ahead to this weekend will see the first round of the Co-operative MacTavish Cup.This cup can only be played by north teams.
The fixtures are as follows: Caberfeidh v Lochcarron, Invernees v Beauly, Kilmallie v Glenurquhart, Lovat v Kinlochshiel, Newtonmore v Skye, Strathglass v Fort William.
In the Premier League, Kingussie's bye in the first round leaves them to tackle Oban Camanachd at the Dell, while Glenorchy host Kyles Athletics at home.
Safe travels to one and all.