Shinty to revert to 10-team Orion Premiership for 2015

Zac Coley (right) holds off Inveraray's Ruaraidh Graham in the Celtic Society Cup final in June
Zac Coley (right) holds off Inveraray's Ruaraidh Graham in the Celtic Society Cup final in June

Shinty's Orion Premiership will revert to 10 teams after one season at eight, following a decision at the Camanachd Association's annual general meeting.

Members on Friday overwhelmingly voted for the change, which was proposed by Newtonmore and Kingussie.

Several clubs and players had felt dissatisfaction that there have been too few fixtures in 2014.

The move means that Lochaber, who finished bottom of the Premiership, will be spared from relegation.

And it's good news for Oban Camanachd, who are promoted along with Marine Harvest National Division title winners Fort William.

The eight-team Premiership and eight-team National Division had been controversial from the start.

As the season wore on, doubts increased over the smaller number of games and shorter playing season.

Newtonmore and Kingussie, with the support of almost all the game's other leading clubs, lodged their motion for a return in 2015 to a 10-team Premiership while keeping the National Division at eight because of a lack of sides capable of playing at that level.

Camanachd Association president Jim Barr
"It would be great if it was also 10 teams and quite a few people voiced that opinion. But we just don't have the strength in depth of teams that are capable of playing at that level."

The lower Area Leagues were also expanded to give further playing opportunities at that level as well.

This was overwhelmingly accepted, although a number of members expressed disappointment that the National Division has to stay at eight clubs.

Glenurquhart's Jim Barr, who was confirmed as the next Association President to succeed Archie Robertson, said: "There was a general strength of feeling that we needed more league shinty.

"We'd have loved to have 10 teams in every league in the set-up but the good thing is that we've managed to reinstate the 10-team Premier and we've got the commitment to the eight-team National League.

"It would be great if it was also 10 teams and quite a few people voiced that opinion. But we just don't have the strength in depth of teams that are capable of playing at that level."

The outcome does also indicate that initial doubts over a National division have now largely been dispelled after its very successful 2014 season.

Meanwhile, a proposal from Kingussie for safety helmets to become compulsory for certain categories of players was withdrawn before the meeting because of fears of a potential legal challenge on the grounds of age discrimination.

The club suggested that helmets should become compulsory for players moving from juvenile shinty, where the rules already require them, into the adult game.

However. this would have meant that helmets only remained optional for established, older players and, following legal advice that this could create the potential for a legal challenge, Kingussie withdrew their motion in advance of the meeting.

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