Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup: Uncertainty in build-up makes Kinlochshiel v Lovat final too close to call

The game every shinty player dreams of becomes reality for Kinlochshiel and Lovat when they meet in the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final at Mossfield, Oban.

Ahead of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final, the two captains; Lovat's Stuart Macdonald (left) and Keith Macrae of Kinlochshiel, meet. Picture: Neil G Paterson

However their dreams could become a nightmare for some as a mixture of injury and suspension adds uncertainty to the preparations.

Kinlochshiel will take a huge support to their first-ever Camanachd Cup Final and it would be particularly cruel if manager Johnston Gill was denied the services of talisman Finlay MacRae who suffered a blow to the knee in the semi-final win over Kyles Athletic.

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John MacRae and Duncan “WD” MacRae both missed ‘Shiel’s last league outing whilst Ali Nixon’s hamstring injury is a concern. However Scotland defender Mark MacDonald has won his fitness race.

Captain Keith MacRae said: “It feels great to get to the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final. It’s the pinnacle of our sport. We have all been trying to get here for a number of years, around 15 years in my case, and to be part of the team that finally gets there is a great feeling.

“Now we have to go out and give a good account of ourselves. It’s going to be about whoever turns up on the day and delivers for their team and their communities.

“The support from the west coast is tremendous and it’s going to help the guys give that last bit in the tank to hopefully get us over the line.”

Lovat, past winners in 1953 and 2015, have appeared in four of the last six finals. After missing the 2013 MacTavish Cup Final through suspension, Lorne MacKay also sits this one out as his booking in the semi-final victory over Kingussie triggers an untimely ban.

Defender Scott MacKenzie suffered a broken finger in that game so boss Jamie Matheson is likely to call-up Ryan Ferguson and Cammy MacMillan.

Lovat skipper Stuart MacDonald is confident: “Our experience in previous finals is really going to help us.

“Fraser Heath and Greg Matheson have been in great form and having a good support is going to make all the difference for the boys so the more Lovat fans we have in Oban, the better.

“There’s something different about matches of this magnitude that give us that extra bit of adrenaline.”

All over the field there are key contests. Kinlochshiel’s Donald Nixon has been commanding since taking over the full centre role whilst Jordan Fraser’s movement and shooting power will threaten the Lovat defence. Finlay MacRae and Mark MacDonald proving their fitness would be a huge boost to their side’s chances.

Scotland keeper Stuart MacDonald has already demonstrated his importance whilst Lovat’s internationals Matheson and Heath will more than occupy the ‘Shiel back line. The classy Craig Mainland has a pivotal role in defence.

The battle between Lovat’s in-form full back Daniel Grieve and Kinlochshiel’s powerful full forward John MacRae is one of the game’s most fascinating match-ups.

It all adds up to a final which is too close to call.

Match referee John Angus Gillies becomes the first Skye-man to take charge of shinty’s blue riband event since Archibald MacPherson 107 years ago. Throw up is at 2.10pm and the whole match will be broadcast live on BBC ALBA.

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