Shinty: What awaits as the 2020 season begins?

By Amy MacBeathBBC Sport Scotland
'It could be anybody' - Shinty title race wide open

The new shinty season begins this weekend, but what awaits in the coming campaign?

Can Kingussie retain their league title after ending a decade-long wait? Can Oban Camanachd go one better than last term and clinch the big prize? And how will promoted sides Fort William and Glasgow Mid Argyll fare?

Get yourselves ready with BBC Scotland's team-by-team guide...

Caberfeidh

Last season: Finished seventh and reached the semi-finals of the Camanachd Cup.

Key fact: They were the only team in the top division not to draw a game last season. All or nothing for the Cabers.

One to watch: Craig Morrison - the club's top scorer and the league's player of the year 2019

Fort William

Last season: The 2019 sponsors club of the year scored 68 goals and were unbeaten as they cruised to the National title and lifted the Balliemore Cup.

Key fact: The Fort have nearly lost their ground several times - the 92-acre An Aird was earmarked for waterfront development, stripped bare by rabbits in 2006, and vandalised to the tune of thousands in 2009.

One to watch: Aaron MacPhee ripped through defences last season, scoring 29 goals. He missed out on a Scotland nod so will no doubt look to make an impact in the Premiership.

Glasgow Mid Argyll

Last season: Another promoted to the top tier after only one defeat. They reached the final of the Balliemore and semis of the Society Cup.

Key fact: GMA's greatest triumph came in 1973 when they lifted the Camanachd Cup - they were the first city club to achieve this feat.

One to watch: Described as one of the hardest tacklers in shinty, it has been said JD MacKenzie is an underrated player who performs week-in week-out.

Kilmallie

Last season: Finished eighth and only made the second round of the Camanachd, while bowing out in the first of both the Macaulay and MacTavish Cups.

Key fact: Kilmallie Shinty Club have never folded or merged in their 91-year history.

One to watch: Son of 90s player Keith, the versatile Innes Blackhall can feature anywhere on the park.

Kingussie

Kingussie's facebook post
Kingusie beat Kilmallie to secure the Premiership title

Last season: The Badenoch side ended their 10-year wait for a league win, adding the Macaulay to their trophy haul and making the last four of the MacTavish.

Key fact: Kingussie had the youngest average age of any Premiership champions at 23.4 years.

One to watch: While Savio Genini scored half of last season's goals (25 of their 52), it is goalkeeper Rory MacGregor who could prove the difference for the Dell team if they are to defend their title.

Kinlochshiel

Last season: After claiming the title in 2017 and coming a close third in 2018, Shiel finished in a comfortable mid-table sixth with early round cup exits.

Key fact: Kinlochshiel feature in Clash of the Ash by Runrig… "Tell me who's gonna mark the Kinlochshiel Bear. He's hard as nails, quick as a flash. He comes down from the caves for the clash of the ash".

One to watch: If two-time Scotland cap Finlay MacRae can stay injury free, he's one of the top players in the game.

Kyles Athletic

Last season: Glasgow Celtic Society Cup finalists Kyles made the finals of the Camanachd Cup and landed fourth in the Premiership, although had to share the points for their final ties due to bad weather.

Key fact: Kyles originally played in red and white hoops until Rangers donated kit to the Tighnabruaich club.

One to watch: A handful for any defence, the Southern side reckon if they can get Roddy MacDonald up front scoring regularly they will have a better season.

Lovat

Last season: The 2015 Camanachd Cup winners didn't make it past the second round in any cup campaigns last year, but the Kiltarlity outfit finished third in the league.

Key fact: Lovat Shinty Club won every senior competition they entered in 1953 and were the first club to do so. This also included the traditionally south-only tournament, the Glasgow Celtic Society Cup.

One to watch: Daniel Grieve should prove a steady hand, known for his good decision-making.

Newtonmore

Last season: They almost cleaned up in the cups, winning the Camanachd, claimed the MacTavish, and making the semi-finals of the Macaulay. But they came fifth in the Premiership.

Key fact: Newtonmore have won the Camanachd the more times than any other side (34).

One to watch: New manager Orsten Gardner has stepped up to the senior side after helping the second team secure the North Division 1 last year and brings some of his best youth players with him.

Oban Camanachd

Last season: Oban won the Glasgow Celtic Society Cup, made the finals of the Camanachd and the Macaulay, and were league runners up.

Key fact: Dougie MacIntyre Senior is one of the oldest players to play in a Camanachd Cup final - aged 48 against Newtonmore in 1981.

One to watch: With southern shinty become increasingly competitive, the experience of Daniel Cameron should come in handy. He demands the best of his team and sets the standard.

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