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Shinty's new season gets underway

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Gary Innes | 16:05 UK time, Monday, 5 March 2012

The 2012 Premiership got underway on Saturday and I'm sure few could have predicted the outcome of some fixtures.

Last year's champions Newtonmore opened their season at home against Lovat and found themselves three down in under 30 minutes, thanks to hat-trick hero, Greg Matheson.

'More did manage to pull one back with seconds remaining courtesy of an own goal from Lovat's Daniel Grieve.

This is a fantastic start for the Kiltarlity men and few would have expected new manager Allan Macrae and Co to waltz off with both points from this one.

Newtonmore v Lovat

The next game to catch everyone's attention was newly-promoted Kinlochshiel's efforts at the Dell.

Kinlochshiel, who were meant to start their league campaign at home, had to switch to Kingussie to fulfill the fixture as their field was unplayable.

This did not deter the Wester Ross men, who thumped five past Kings to claim their first ever Premier points with a 5-3 win.

Glenurquhart hosted Kilmallie at Drumnadrochit in their opening fixture, and current Scotland defender John Barr, favoured up front this year, opened for the home side in four minutes.

Kilmallie, however, didn't waste time and levelled the match through Liam Macdonald.

Glen then went ahead once more through Fraser Heath, before Macdonald claimed his second of the day to once more level the score.

It was then left to TV star, Eddie Tembo, to snatch both points for Glenurquhart and kick start their league campaign, much to the delight of new bosses MacNeil and MacKenzie.

Last year's runners-up, Kyles Athletic, had their game against Inveraray called off due to unplayable fields.

Even when reversed the fixture could not be upheld, so both clubs had an extra weekend off.

Fort William welcomed South champions Bute to the wonderful settings of 'The Black Parks'.

This is the ground Fort William have been allocated this season as their home field 'An Aird' gets a make over.

I had never thought to question before now why it was ever called 'The Black Parks', but possibly it's to do with being the coldest, windiest, driechest place in Lochaber.

I should add though, there are not many fields left in Scotland where part of the warm up is hitting many forms of animal jobby off the field before play.

Fort William, who lost four players at the end of last season, were a further four key players short through various commitments.

This gave me the opportunity to be the old man of the team at 31, and, statistically, from 'Bobby 'Luggs' Macmillan's age calculator, Fort's team had an average age of 21.7 years.

This is a fantastic step forward from Fort William, one that many feel was needed a number of seasons ago, however, it's a very hard call to try and bleed young boys through when the old boys keep getting the job done.

Fort started the stronger of the two with the wind at their back, and continually pressurised the Bute defence.

In particular Scott Henderson created fine chances for himself and team mates around him, however finished goalless at half time.

Bute made good use of the wind advantage from the start of the second half and were rewarded when Robert Walker cracked home the opener in under two minutes.

However, Fort didn't waste time in responding when skipper Bryan Simpson found a bit of space at the back post to rifle an unstoppable shot past the keeper.

There was to be no winner though, leaving both clubs to settle for a share of the points.

A special mention though to 15-year-old Aaron Macphee, who sat side-by-side with his Scotland International brother Niall in the centre of the park and mopped up all day long.

With Aaron's good looks and silky skills he's sure to be a star at Fort William, maybe even better than his brother, but don't say that to Niall.

Looking ahead to this weekends fixtures:

Newtonmore head in search of their first points to the Isle of Rothesay, where they face Bute, while Glenurquhart look to continue their fine start against Inveraray.

Inveraray will be looking forward to finally getting a hit on grass this year, as all their pre-season friendlies were cancelled due to bad weather.

Kilmallie host in-form Lovat at the Canal Parks, while Kingussie have home advantage over Kyles Athletic.

Fort William make their way north to face Kinlochshiel.

Kinlochshiel will certainly be on a high after last weekends result, and taking a further two points from a club they have not beaten at home in nearly 30 years will be top priority.

Unfortunately, I am in Italy this weekend and cannot join my Fort William team mates in Balmacara, however wish them the very best of luck.

Safe travels to all clubs and supporters.


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