Kilmallie come out of cold storage tomorrow for a belated start to their season after the Lochaber Covid-19 outbreak but two of their players won’t take part until they have the vaccine.
The Caol club have four players returning from watching Scotland take on England at Wembley and a total of 10 players unavailable for their Artemis Macaulay Cup first round tie against holders Kingussie at Canal Park.
But manager Martin Stewart said: “We’re delighted to be back and we’ll field a decent team.
“Our friendly at Ballachulish on May 22 was our only game since March last year so it’s quite challenging to go straight in to a cup clash with Kingussie, who scored 13 goals last Saturday.
“We’ve a couple of lads who’ve told me they won’t be involved until they’re vaccinated. It’s understandable that they’re not comfortable and we hope they’ll be back soon.”
A chance for youth to shine
Stewart announced several weeks ago that he wouldn’t be in the starting line-up this year to focus on managing, but he’ll start against Kingussie to lend his experience to his weakened team.
“We’re bringing in under-17 players Aidan Love and Ben MacIntyre, two cracking players who I expect big things from this season,” said Stewart.
Kingussie, who beat Oban Camanachd 3-2 in the 2019 final, are still without Fraser Munro and Lee Bain.
Fort William also make their first appearance of the competitive campaign when they tackle 2018 and 2016 cup winners Kinlochshiel in the same competition.
“The local virus surge was disastrous and it’s been extremely frustrating for the club, but we’re looking forward now,” said co-manager Victor Smith.
“Fortunately, we’d done all our pre-season work before the outbreak, so we’ll be fit enough, but lack Shiel’s match practice.
“We’ll be without four players who will be returning from the Wembley match and Gordon Stevenson will come in at wing-back.”
It is 21 years since Fort lifted the Macaulay trophy. Shiel, who have started with a draw and a win, are without broken toe victim Mark MacDonald.
Kyles Athletic, winners in 2017 and 2013, have started with two wins, with three goals for Ross MacRae, and they should be too strong for Aberdour, who they host for the first time in this tournament.
The 2009 winners, Inveraray, are at home to Glasgow Mid Argyll in the other tie.
Beauly and Strathglass chasing win
In the only senior league fixture, Beauly visit Strathglass in a League B derby with both sides chasing their first victory.
Boleskine, the North Second Division outfit, have opted not to play competitively this year because of coronavirus and have given Kingussie colts a walkover in tomorrow’s Strathdearn Cup first round. Aberdeen University make the long trip to Balmacara to face Kinlochshiel second team.