Weather can't stop shinty derby drama

Glenurquhart v Lovat
Lovat knocked holders Glenurquhart out of the Macaulay Cup

Weather played its part in dampening the opening round of the Macaulay Cup, with Kyles Athletic, Bute, Oban Celtic and Taynuilt all having an afternoon off in the pub due to rain postponing their fixtures.

Last year's finalists, Oban Camanachd, travelled to Glenorchy and progressed thanks to a comfortable 4-0 win, while Newtonmore went one better over Lochaber and stormed into the next round 5-0.

Holders Glenurquhart were forced out of the competition 4-2 by Lovat, despite taking the lead twice, while, at the other end of the country, Inveraray won 3-0 at Glasgow Mid Argyll.

Kinlochshiel also went through at the Dell, thanks to a Gordy MacDonald hat-trick, including a last-second winner, as Shiel marked an incredible 4-3 victory over Kingussie.

Fort William met local rivals Kilmallie at An Aird.

This fixture used to be nothing short of a blood bath.

However, over the years, with changes in coaches and the end of the era of the older stalwarts, Saturday's match was very much about the shinty.

In front of a large crowd the first-half was fairly even with chances and saves falling at both ends of the park.

However, a unique team talk from Fort co-manager Victor Smith at half-time seemed to do the trick, as Daniel Stewart opened the scoring three minutes after the restart.

Kilmallie were soon two behind due to an unfortunate ricochet off defender Iain Robertson's stick which diverted the ball into his own net.

Fort William had started to string passes and possession together better than in the first-half and were soon three ahead through a goal from yours truly.

Kilmallie's Mark Graham pulled one back for the Caol side to lift the Kilmallie spirits, but it wasn't long before Fort once more had a three-goal cushion as I scored a second.

The ball had deflected off my back in a tackle and, as I turned and hit it, the ball went about a foot in height into the goal but continued right through the net!

Neither the referee and goal judge had seen the ball hit the net so were confused as to the celebrations.

After much explaining and examining for holes the goal was given thanks to a good bit of sporting honesty from Kilmallie keeper Kevin Toye.

This was a good win for Fort, who have been struggling of late to get players available through a variety of reasons.

But it may not be the last Fort v Kilmallie derby this season. If Kilmallie can dispose of GMA in the Camanachd Cup first round, then the Lochaber derby will be revisited again next month.

This year's Artemis Macaulay Cup final will take place at Mossfield Park, Oban on Saturday 17th August.

Looking ahead to this weekend's fixtures, it's semi-final time in both the MacTavish and Celtic Cup.

In the MacTavish Cup, reigning champions Newtonmore meet Glenurquhart, while Kilmallie face Lovat at the Canal Parks.

In the Celtic Society Cup semi-finals, Oban Camanachd challenge Inveraray, while GMA welcome Kyles Athletic.

In the Premiership, Lochaber have home advantage over Kinlochshiel, while Fort William make their way to the Dell to face Kingussie.

Fort William already know they will be without key players this weekend due to Fort player Bobby 'Lugs' MacMillan's wedding.

This will now give some of the younger players an opportunity to start in a Fort v Kingussie match, which, to me growing up, was the biggest of them all.

This was probably because, at that time, we were Shinty's two top teams.

This has changed quite dramatically in the past couple of seasons, however; you can't be top dog forever.

In fact, if you're lucky enough to ever be there in the first place you should feel privileged.

I know I do.

Safe travels to all clubs and supporters.