Shinty: Fort William face top-flight shinty drop

By Gary InnesFort William shinty wing centre
Victor Smith and James Clark (right) celebrate Fort William's cup success in 2007
Fort William's Camanachd Cup win in 2007 seems a long time ago now

Newtonmore lifted the Orion Group Premiership trophy for the fourth consecutive year in a row at An Aird, Fort William on Saturday.

Newtonmore's 2-0 win over Fort William made no odds to the Badenoch champions, as they had already won the league title a week before the Camanachd cup final, however did not want to be presented with the trophy until after 'the big one', so as not to lose focus.

A great first season for new manager PJ Macintosh, who coached his side to both a Camanachd and league double - a double that only Newtonmore and their neighbours Kingussie have ever managed since the beginning of Shinty's Premier league.

I predicted that Newtonmore would lift the 2013 title this time last year, and I am predicting it again for next season unless, by some chance, they lose a number of key players.

There are a couple of other teams out there with a very strong starting 12, however it is 'More's depth of squad that I feel can't be matched in the game at this present time.

Elsewhere in the Premiership, Kinlochshiel confirmed 2014 top-flight shinty with a 3-3 draw at home to Inveraray, while Kyles Athletic drew 1-1 with Glenurquhart at Tighnabruaich.

With Kyles picking up a home point this now leaves Fort William with a miracle finish to avoid the drop.

Fort travel this weekend to Kiltarlity to finish what has been a very difficult season for the Lochaber club. To keep their Premiership survival chances alive, Fort must pick up both points over Lovat, while Kyles Athletic would need to lose their remaining four fixtures.

This will not happen.

Fort William, as I have previously discussed, will benefit from this drop.

It's not the Fort William team that people remember when they think of a few years ago and with the farewell of many of the game's finest players of that era, comes a new wave of youth.

This will be an opportunity for Fort William to regroup and rebuild at An Aird, hopefully learning how to win again as a unit without the teenagers feeling the constant strain of the Premiership on their shoulders.

The only other Premiership fixture pits shinty's big two finalists against each other as Newtonmore and Kyles Athletic meet for the third time in five weeks.

With Kyles lifting the MacAulay Cup and 'More boasting the Camanachd, this will be a cracker with all the pressure off.

Safe travels to all clubs and supporters.

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