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Rain could force change of venue

By SPP Reporter

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The semi-finals of the Camanachd Cup take centre stage this weekend
The semi-finals of the Camanachd Cup take centre stage this weekend

Contingency plans have been drawn up that would involve one of the matches being played at an alternative venue such as Bught Park, Inverness, or Blairbeg Park, Drumnadrochit.

The idea of a double header for the semi finals was first introduced last year and was hailed as a success after Fort William, Inveraray, Kingussie and Kyles Athletic took part in memorable games in glorious late summer sunshine at Mossfield Park, Oban.

This year, two of the four from last season — Inveraray and Kingussie — are back in the mix for a place in the 2011 final, which goes ahead at Bught Park on 17th September.

If the schedule goes to plan, Inveraray will line up against Newtonmore at 12.45pm and to allow for the eventuality of extra-time and penalties, the second match featuring Kilmallie and Kingussie goes ahead at 3.30pm.

Newtonmore, who are the record winners of the trophy, have not won it since 1986 and that quarter of a century of pain could come to end this season.

Opponents Inveraray are struggling badly in the Premier Division and after their 3-0 defeat by Glenurquhart are favourites to be relegated along with Glenorchy from the top league.

Newtonmore will be without regular stopper Michael Ritchie, who is suspended. Stand-in goalkeeper Sean MacQuarrie may also be unavailable as he is playing in the club’s Strathdearn Cup semi-final and risks being cup-tied should his side reach the junior final.

Inveraray will look to the return of Russell MacKinlay for inspiration and manager John Smillie is urging his players to recreate the form which saw the Royal Burgh side sweep Kyles out of the cup at the quarter-final stage.

It is five years since Kingussie last won shinty’s top prize and for fans of the Badenoch club that must feel like a lifetime.

Kingussie manager Steve Borthwick has a number of problems to deal with notably the absence of his brother Iain, who misses out with a foot injury. Former Strathglass player Lee Bain should return to the side and there could be a place for youngster Martin Dallas, who scored four goals in Kingussie’s recent Sutherland Cup triumph.

Kilmallie have their own problems, however, with striker John Stewart suspended along with youngster Peter MacIntyre. They last featured in a final in 2005 with team boss John Morrison aiming to go one better this season.

The Strathdearn Cup has also reached the semi-final stage with two cracking matches in store.

Holders Glenurquhart face Great Glen rivals Glengarry at Craigard Park with the Drumnadrochit side looking like a shadow of the team that stormed to a league and cup double last season.

Ewan Brady, one of the stars of the 2010 side, has opted to play for Glengarry this season and he will line-up against his old team-mates tomorrow.

Recent form would make Glengarry favourites, but the Drumnadrochit side have built a reputation for rising to the occasion and a fascinating match is in prospect.

In the other semi-final, it is equally close with the two best reserve teams — Fort William and Newtonmore — squaring up to each other at the Black Parks in Fort William.

There is also an extensive league programme tomorrow with Glenurquhart and Lovat in action in the Scottish Hydro Premier Division.

Lovat’s match at home to Oban Camanachd is of vital importance to the Balgate side with both teams mired in the battle to avoid relegation. A win for Lovat is essential as Oban have a number of games in hand, as well as leading the Kiltarlity side by a point.

Glenurquhart, free from relegation worries, play bottom side Glenorchy at Dalmally and will be favourites for both points.

In North Division One, Strathglass wind up their season with a home match against Kinlochshiel, while Caberfeidh take on Lochcarron in the Ross-shire derby at Strathpeffer.

Inverness make the short trip to Beauly in what is a rescheduling of the match earlier in the season that was abandoned in the 79th minute because of snow.

In midweek, Inverness put up a valiant display against title-chasing Lochaber before going down 5-3 to the Spean Bridge side.

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