Shinty: Lovat clinch second place as season is extended

By Charles BannermanBBC Scotland
Oban Camanachd's match with Fort William was abandoned
Oban Camanachd's match with Fort William was abandoned

Lovat finally clinched second place behind Newtonmore in the Orion Premiership on a day when three postponements put the shinty season into overtime.

Lovat's 2-2 draw at home to Camanachd Cup holders Kingussie took the hosts clear of the other challengers while Kyles Athletic failed to raise a team for the other Premiership game away to Kinlochshiel.

Kevin Bartlett put Lovat ahead just before half-time and Robert Mabon equalised shortly after the restart. Barlett's second put Lovat in front again but a Garry Munro penalty in the penultimate minute made it a point apiece.

The National Division decider between Oban Camanachd and Fort William had to be abandoned following an injury to the referee.

Referee Robert Baxter lies injured on the turf
Referee Baxter was unable to continue after being hit by the ball

Fort William needed a point but Oban needed both and went ahead in the first half. However, early in the second half, referee Robert Baxter fell foul of a fast moving ball and was unable to continue. The match may not be replayed for several weeks.

Meanwhile, the play-off for promotion to the National Division between Skye and Ballachulish has been delayed until 1 November after a potential loophole emerged when Ballachulish initially told the Camanachd Association that they would not fulfil Saturday's fixture.

The governing body has accepted responsibility for the anomaly after it was discovered that, although the clubs had received their area league trophies, there was a theoretical chance that they could be overtaken.

Ten days before the play-off was due to go ahead, Ballachulish made an unsuccessful request to the Camanachd Association (CA) for the game to be rearranged.

Then, 48 hours in advance of the fixture, a club statement announced that they would not fulfil the tie, listing eight reasons. These included a three-week lay-off prior to the game, unavailability of players - some of them at the Ryder Cup - and that they had not yet completed their league programme.

This prompted the CA to re-examine the matter and the loophole emerged. Officials realised that if either side failed to fulfil their remaining North and South Division 1 fixtures, suffered the mandatory two- point penalty and then lost the rearranged games, they could both, in theory, be overhauled by their nearest rivals.

Although this unlikely outcome had not been specifically raised by Ballachulish, CA officials decided to delay the play-off until November to allow the outstanding fixtures to be played.

A CA spokesperson has admitted that it had been "premature" in fixing the play-off and added: "The CA accepts responsibility for the situation and deeply regrets the confusion and inconvenience caused.

"The CA has discussed the position with representatives of each club and again apologised for overlooking the potential effect of Bye-Law 3.5.1."

The first of the eight reasons Ballachulish offered for the game to be postponed was having to go three weeks before it without a game. Now the rearranged tie will go ahead four weeks after their final fixture.

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