Gary Innes retires on a high as Fort William win promotion

By Charles BannermanBBC Scotland at Mossfield Stadium, Oban
Fort William wing forward Gary Innes
Fort William wing forward Gary Innes has announced his retirement from shinty

Fort William secured the Marine Harvest National Division title and a return to the Premiership following a 2-0 win away to their only other title challenger, Oban Camanachd.

It brings an end to a shinty season prolonged by promotion wrangles and a referee injury in the previous meeting of the teams, when the match had to be abandoned.

However, Fort's restoration to the top flight will not feature club legend and who, after the game, announced his retirement from the sport.

But although Fort William are guaranteed a Premiership place, Oban Camanachd are just a single vote away from joining them.

Daniel Stewart opened the scoring at Mossfield Park after just seven minutes before Arran MacPhee put Fort William into an even stronger position.

In his final game, Innes missed a penalty and Fort's Stevie Stewart was sent off, albeit too late for his absence to have much impact. The champions' victory means that they finish their 14-game programme undefeated on 26 points and with a goal difference of 62 while Camanachd sign off on 23 points.

Wing forward Innes, 33, has been a central figure in Fort William teams for many years and captained the club to its 2005 Camanachd Cup win before also captaining Scotland.

Following the 2014 international series against Ireland, Innes, whose appearances have been limited by his commitments as a professional musician, indicated that his international career was at an end and now he also withdraws from club shinty.

What might also restore Oban Camanachd to the Premiership is a vote on league structure at the Camanachd Association's AGM on 28 November.

The meeting will consider a motion for the Premiership to revert to 10 teams from eight and, if it is passed, there would be no relegation and a second promotion.

A further knock-on effect would be two promotions from the Area Leagues to the National Division, rendering unnecessary Skye's earlier 5-0 victory over Ballachulish in the highly controversial promotion play-off for what's currently still a single place.

Insufficient fixtures are driving the AGM motion framed by Newtonmore and Kingussie and supported by all but one of the remainder of shinty's top clubs. The 10-team Premiership will provide four more games there, although insufficient clubs to make it viable mean that a similar change is not possible in the National Division.

So, the camans go back into the cupboard for the winter but there is still all to play for in the meeting room.