Shinty's Camanachd Cup: Lovat aim to break 62-year duck

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland
Camanachd Cup final: Lovat v Kyles Athletic
Venue: Mossfield Stadium, Oban Date: 19 September Throw-up: 14:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Scotland from 14:00 BST; BBC Radio Scotland 810MW; audio, video and report on BBC Sport website

The showpiece shinty event of the season takes place on Saturday with Lovat and Kyles Athletic contesting the Camanachd Cup final in Oban.

It's an historic occasion for Lovat in particular, this being their first final since 1953; co-incidentally they defeated Kyles in a replay to win the trophy for the only time.

To put that in context, it was the year of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. It's been a long wait to be crowned once again.

They face a tough challenge. Kyles have an impressive pedigree in this competition in recent years.

It's also the stadium in which they recorded their last victory in 2012, a thrilling 6-5 win over Inveraray.

Recent form also suggests they'll have too much for Lovat, a fact conceded by manager John MacRitchie.

"Kyles are obviously the favourites," he said. "The league doesn't lie. They're competing for the title and they've beaten us earlier on in the season.

"It puts the pressure on them perhaps a little more. They're used to the occasion, we're not.

"It's 12 against 12"

"We've got a good enough chance," he added. "It's two teams, 12 against 12. Hopefully if we turn up, play our game we'll get the right result."

Kyles Athletic will also take confidence after a fairly comprehensive 4-1 league victory over Lovat this season.

In the expert opinion of Hugh Dan MacLennan, though, the outcome may not be as straightforward as many may expect.

"Shinty has a habit of throwing up some interesting results when history comes into play," he said.

"Kyles come with an awful lot of baggage with 21 (Camanachd Cup) wins. There's a huge expectation on them.

"Their team, if they win, will go down in history as the team that broke the 62-year duck."

"It's the team that adapts best to the conditions which will win this. There's a huge amount at stake and the communities know that.

"I think it's got the potential to be one of the best finals for years."

Both sides play an attractive style of shinty, which, in the right conditions, points to an entertaining final if both sides play to their potential.

Kyles Athletic co-manager James Perlich certainly believes supporters may be in for a treat, whoever is victorious.

"It's got the makings of a great final," he said.

"Kyles play very similar shinty to Lovat, especially in the forward lines. Fast flowing, using the space, with forwards that take their chances as well."

Now for the big one

Lovat's Greg Matheson is expected to feature after injury, his last appearance coming in their semi-final win over Inveraray.

"1953 when we last won it," Matheson told BBC Scotland. "We got to the MacTavish final in 2013 and 14. That's kind of pushed us on to bigger and better things. Now the Camanachd is the one we really want, that's the one we're after."

Lovat do have other injury concerns in Jamie Matheson, Calum Cruden and Lorne Mackay and their success may depend on how many of those make it. Daniel Grieve returns after missing the semi-final through suspension.

For Kyles, forward Roddy MacDonald will be hoping for a repeat of his four-goal tally in 2012 which earned him the Albert Smith medal for outstanding player in the Camanachd Cup final.

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