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Southern comfort for Camanachd Cup

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Gary Innes | 19:09 UK time, Sunday, 9 September 2012

It's an all-South final this coming Saturday when Inveraray clash with Kyles Athletic's at Mossfield Stadium, Oban, in the 105th Camanachd Cup Final.

This will be Shinty's first all-South Camanachd final since 1983, where Kyles beat Strachur 3-2.

Kyles Athletics will go into shinty's blue riband event as favourites, although Inveraray have beaten the Tighnabruiach men already this season in the league.

Camanachd Cup

I feel very fortunate to have played in eight Camanachd cup finals and even more fortunate to have won five of them.

A Camanachd Cup winner's medal is without question a shinty player's most thought, fought, and sought-after prize.

It is almost impossible to describe to someone who doesn't follow the sport just how much this trophy means to each individual player and follower.

From a very early age, as soon as you can hold a stick in your hand, winning the Camanachd Cup is up there alongside thoughts of catching Santa delivering your presents.

Unfortunately, for most players, neither happen.

Inveraray last lifted the trophy in 2004 when they beat Fort William 1-0 at the same venue as this year's final, Oban, while Kyles last grasped the cup back in 1994 after beating Fort William 3-1 at Inverness.

Both clubs have since both lost Camanachd finals to Fort William, in
2007 (Inveraray 3-1) and 2009, (Kyles 4-3), meaning many of the players in both squads have played in Shinty's showpiece final before.

This experience and preparation is vital.

From the preparations midweek, to not keeching your drawers when the pipe-band march you out on live television, having been there before helps to focus on the game rather than getting caught up in the whole day.

The first two Camanachd finals I played in we lost to Kingussie in 2003, and a year later to Inveraray.

I can't tell you how many tears were shed after those two games, worrying you would never grasp a winners medal.

Getting to a Camanachd final is an honour and an incredible achievement in itself, make no mistake.

However, if you're on the losing end of one, it feels like there has been a death in the family.

Nobody wants that feeling.

This is why, as a player, the final is so special, and why each one of the starting 24 players give absolutely everything they have for their team, family, and village.

Both clubs are hugely supported by their respective villages and will be sure to have a massive traveling support hoping to cheer their lads to victory.

If you are lucky enough to taste victory, the party that proceeds will last a week with legendary stories of strippers, skinny dipping, gambling, and all-night mayhem - and that was just at Fort William!

Each club have their own stories and history to write.

So, where do you think the cup will end up on Sunday morning?

Will it awake in the normally quiet village of Tighnabruiach, or will Inveraray's George Hotel have the big boy above the bar?

Let's hear who you think will get their hands on Shinty's most talked about trophy, and why.

You can catch all the action live this Saturday on BBC 2 from 2.15pm.

I will be commentating and watching all the action from the big green box alongside Hugh Dan Maclennan, while Dougie Vipond presents the show with the added help of Fraser Inglis trackside.

Safe travels to all players all supporters.

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