Lochaber aim to add to historic MacTavish Cup wins
Lochaber will play Newtonmore in this year's Co-operative MacTavish Cup final after beating Kingussie 2-1 at Spean Bridge.
Many had tipped an all-Badenoch final before this match as Newtonmore faced Glenurquhart in the other semi-final. However, Michael Delaney's North Division 1 warriors silenced one half of Badenoch with two late goals.
It was Scotland International Sean Nicholson who broke the deadlock on 87 minutes from the penalty spot, before substitute Stuart Callison set Spean Bridge alight with a 90th minute rocket.
Ronald Ross pulled one back for Kings deep into stoppage time, but it was all too late as the Spean support stormed the field.
David Smart (Glenurquhart) and Andy Mackintosh (Newtonmore) compete for possession in the Co-operative MacTavish Cup semi-final at Blairbeg Park. Photo: Neil Paterson
In over 100 years, Lochaber have only won the MacTavish Cup final three times, or Brae Lochaber as it was named then - in 1922, 1925, and 1933. Incredibly, a few years back I was given the man-of-the-match and winners' medals from 1922 and 1925, but that's another story.
With my little brother Hughie Innes as Lochaber skipper, I'm hoping another Lochaber winner's medal makes it way into the family home.
It took penalties to extract a winner in the other semi final, as Glenurquhart and Newtonmore were locked at 2-2 after extra time. Fraser Heath opened the scoring for 'Glen, before Newtonmore's Glen Macintosh equalised.
It was then 'More's turn to take advantage of the lead through Jamie Robertson but it wasn't long before Billy Urquhart had levelled the tie.
A further hour of shinty took place with no winner to be found, before both clubs named their five penalty takers. Newtonmore went on to eventually win 2-0 on penalties.
At the same time In the south, the AJG Celtic Society cup semi-finals were under way.
Taynuilt created their own bit of history as they brushed aside Aberdour 4-1 to reach their first ever Celtic Society final. Goals from Willie Neilson, Michael MacQueen, Mark Beaton, and Stuart Scott all confirmed a spot in the Old Anniesland final.
Taynuilt now meet Inveraray in the final as they breezed through with a 6-3 win over islanders Bute. A Chris Crawford double, followed by strikes from Garry MacPherson and Euan MacMurdo, had the visitors leading by four, before Roberto Zavaroni and Robert Walker pulled two back for Bute.
MacPherson's second of the day, followed by a Russell MacKinlay strike, dispersed any notion of a Bute comeback. Hector Whitelaw reduced the deficit to three in the last few moments from the spot.
A huge congratulations goes out to Strathspey Camanachd who won their first ever competitive league tie against Lewis Camanachd. Strathspey Camanachd is another brand-new club that joined North Division 3 this season.
JJ Grey and Laurence Bellini were the Spey valley heroes, as Lewis could only manage one through Stuart Campbell. I'm sure Stornaway and a Calmac ferry home would have treated the victors well.
With lots of different clubs springing up from primary grassroots level right the way through to senior shinty, is there anywhere you would like to see shinty being played? With Scottish football in its worst state in living memory, can you envisage more shinty clubs starting to pop up in non-shinty community areas?
Only two fixtures were scheduled in the Orion Group Premiership.
Kinlochshiel continued their fine form with a 3-0 home win over Kilmallie. A Duncan Ach Macrae double followed by a Finlay Macrae goal wrapped up both points for the Wester Ross men. This win keeps last years North Division 1 Champs in second spot behind Newtonmore.
The only other OGP game saw Fort William travel down to Tighnabruaich.
This was Kyles Athletic's first game on their home field this season, as they had been playing their home fixtures at neighbouring village Strachur, due to maintenance being carried out on their field.
Kyles Athletic's home turf is a famously unique playing field in shinty, as it has a huge sweeping slope across the field that ends metres from the sea - a spectacular setting. However, when I say slope, I mean a proper hill, (possibly a Munro).
This has been a great talking point over the years when playing Kyles, as they somehow work the slope and use it to their advantage.
With the sun high in the sky and supporters all along the hillside, the match got under way.
Kyles definitely started the game the stronger of the two clubs and subsequently drew first blood through a great strike from David Zavaroni. Fort William went on to equalise on the hour mark when Bryan Simpson was taken down in the box, and I converted the penalty.
I'd like to say it was end-to-end stuff with both clubs searching for the winner - but I'd be lying. Kyles stepped up a gear once more and continually pumped the ball forward until Robbie MacLeod with minutes remaining slotted home the winner.
This win for Kyles keeps them in joint-second spot alongside Kinlochshiel.
It's derby weekend in this week's Premiership when the Camanachd Association married up all the big rivals to face each other.
The action gets into full swing with Bute v Kyles Athletics, Lovat v Glenurquhart, Inveraray v Kinlochshiel, while Kingussie host Newtonmore.
Fort William face local rivals Kilmallie, who are threatened with relegation, at the Canal Parks.
Fort William have had a disappointing start also in the league but they will be in no doubt that only a win will do from this battle.
With the majority of Lochaber's ears and eyes on the Canal Parks this weekend, it's sure as always to be a cracker with plenty of contentious talking points.
My musical commitments, unfortunately, take me away from the big derby match this weekend. However, I'll be on the phone every minute getting an up-to-date report on proceedings.
C'mon the Fort!
Safe travels to all clubs and supporters.