Shinty: Far from home but hitting every ball

By Gary InnesFort William shinty wing centre
Ross scored the winning penalty in the semi-final shoot-out

With only a few hours sleep, my alarm rang out in a La Crosse hotel room, Wisconsin, for me to rise and shine, loading the BBC iPlayer in anticipation of watching my team-mates, Fort William take on Kingussie in the Camanachd Cup semi final.

This was the first time I had ever missed a televised game with Fort William that I had got to watch live and to be quite honest, watching the lads take to the field without me as I crouched around my iPad on the other side of the Atlantic, felt absolutely hellish!

I was however joined by my band-mate, born and bred Fort William man Ewen Henderson, for some extra Fort support and, at times, restraint.

However, as referee Billy Wotherspoon blasted his whistle and threw the ball high in the air, the 2014 Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup semi-final was underway.

There were only three minutes on the clock before Bryan Simpson had given Fort the dream start they were hoping for with a superbly taken goal.

Against the run of play, Ronald Ross equalised with one of his first touches of the ball, before Fort William's Daniel Stewart had given Fort a second goal.

With only minutes shy of the interval, a stunning solo effort from Kings' Savio Genini squared matters up as both headed for the dressing rooms for half-time.

After a further 75 minutes of play and no more goals, the match had to be decided on the dreaded penalty shoot-out .

The drama was to be continued further, as both teams finished 2-2 after 10 penalties, with some very fine goalkeeping proving to be the main obstacle.

Although, as if it was to be written in the stars, it was the one and only Ross who was to score Kingussie's decisive sixth and crucial penalty, to take the Badenoch side through to the final 3-2 in the shoot-out.

A mention must however go to Kingussie's goalkeeper Craig Dawson, who was in outstanding form all afternoon and saved Fort's last and final strike to kick start Kings' party.

Fort William's new look squad can take huge confidence from this match as they looked the better team for long periods of the game, however congratulations to Kingussie who hung in and finished the job like pros.

A cracking semi-final and we're not done yet!

All eyes now turn to this weekend's semi-final between Skye and Glenurquhart at An Aird.

Skye's one and only Camanachd Cup win came in 1990 against Newtonmore on the very same field as this weekend's semi, while Glenurquhart's one and only final appearance came in 1988, where they lost 4-2 to Kingussie at the Bught Parks - the very same team and venue they would face if they were to win against Skye on Saturday.

So let's hear who you hope to see in the final.

Are you wanting to to see the red and black of the Drumnadrochit men, or the fairytale story of 1990 repeated with Skye Camanachd?

Let's hear your thoughts and views on how you think this one is going to pan out.

One thing Glenurquhart will be very aware of heading into this fixture is that, while there may be two divisions between the two sides, it will make absolutely no difference on Saturday when the islanders grace the field.

You can catch all the semi-final action live on BBC ALBA from 16:00 BST.

If you're not already glued to the television, then there are two shinty cup finals for you this weekend, with Kyles Athletic meeting Inveraray in the Bullough Cup final, while Aberdour face Glenorchy in the Bullough Plate final.

Both games are scheduled to be played at Srachurmore Playing fields, Strachur from 13:00 BST onwards.

Safe travels to all clubs and supporters this weekend.

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