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Lovat leave it late to save their skins

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Gary Innes | 14:59 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

The only game scheduled for the Scottish Hydro Premier Division saw Lovat beat Kilmallie 3-2 in their last game of the season to secure survival.

The Kiltarlity men knew exactly what they needed to do before arriving at the Canal Parks, and went to work instantly with an early goal from Greg Matheson. Euan Ferguson was next on the score-sheet, topped up by a third from Jamie Matheson.

Kilmallie did make a late come back with goals from Scotland forward John Stewart and a 90th-minute second from Ross Lavin but the Caol men could not spoil the Lovat party.

Oban Camanachd would have been closely following Saturdays result as they prayed for Kilmallie win. Camanachd are now favourites to join already relegated Glenorchy unless they can beat Kilmallie by a seven-goal margin this weekend.

Oban Camanachd have pulled off some extraordinary results in this position before and you can be sure won't go down without a monstrous fight.

A few donkeys came out moaning that Kilmallie lay down to Lovat because the North teams stick together.

This is utterly ridiculous!

Lovat beat Kilmallie to ensure their place in next season's top flight

Lovat beat Kilmallie to ensure their place in next season's top flight (pic: Neil G Paterson)

There may have been a divide many years ago with North and South shinty being played in separate leagues but, with the introduction of the Premier League and the National 1st Division many years back, those barriers were broken down.

Many players prefer the brand of shinty that the South teams bring to the Premier League.

The fast off the ball style of Inveraray and Kyles Athletic has moved the game forward, resulting in many North teams trying to adopt their tactics.

The days of the Ballahulish Bridge divide are gone. Deal with it.

Now to the big game this Saturday.

Kyles Athletic face Newtonmore at Tighnabruiach (weather permitting) in a game that could change the club's history forever.

If Kyles come out on top, they will have one hand on the Premier League trophy for the first time, with the thought of also being the first South team ever to win the title.

Kyles have been outstanding all season and have already lifted the Celtic Society Cup, then stole the MacAulay Cup from under Newtonmore's noses with two goals in the dying seconds.

Newtonmore are defending their crown after winning the league last year for the first time in over two decades. And 'More won this season's Camanachd Cup, beating old rivals Kingussie in a thrilling final to break a 25-year curse on the famous trophy.

Both clubs have been at the top of their game but, with huge gaps in play over the past two months with weather and international fixtures, players will not be as match-fit and sharp as they would have liked before this battle.

Newtonmore have pulled back a huge goal deficit these past few weeks, and with Kyles drawing 3-3 against Inveraray in their last fixture, you feel the tables may be turning.

Kyles however, have proved time and time again, you can never write them off and, with Roddy MacDonald in the form of his life, this is sure to be an incredible match-up.

How do you think it will all go down? Will Newtonmore retain their title or will the South stars make history?

A documentary was aired last week on BBC ALBA about Lewis Camanachd; a newly formed team from the Isle of Lewis that were allowed a one year trial period to join North Division 3.

Lewis Camanachd captured the imaginations of an island, and have since finished their 2011 trial season with great expectations.

The Camanachd Association will decide later this month if they can continue in North Division 3 or pull the plug on the islanders.

The only issue that I can see is that clubs will not be happy at starting their day extremely early to catch the ferry from Ullapool, or possibly look at overnight accommodation to fulfil the fixture.

This happens all the time with Highland rugby teams heading to the Orkney and Shetland Isles to play their matches once a year, with no issue.

Yes, it will be an added expense and yes it will be a long journey for most. However, these island lads train as hard as every other club out there, knowing fine that every second Saturday they must travel huge distances if they wish to continue and they are cool with that.

Anyway, imagine the laugh and carry on you would have with your team-mates heading out to the Western Isles for a game. And you know what they say.

P&O's the way to go, but it's Calmac for craic...


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