Police officer Iain Nicolson, who has not started a game for Lovat this season, is poised to pound the beat against Kinlochshiel in Saturday’s 125th Camanachd Cup Final at Mossfield Park, Oban.
Meanwhile, long-serving Shiel legend Finlay MacRae has won his fitness fight after damaging his knee in the semi-final win over Kyles Athletic
Nicolson, who plays in the centre line, will figure as Lovat manager Jamie Matheson ponders his line-up following the loss of Lorne MacKay (suspended) and Scott Mackenzie (injured).
Matheson said: “Iain played for Skye and then ourselves and back to Skye depending on his police duties.
“He rejoined us in 2019 but this season he’s been in the second team, where his form has seen him work his way into the first team squad.
“He’ll definitely be involved in his first Camanachd final, from the bench or from the start, although I’ve still to settle on my line-up.”
Macmillan set to get the nod
Graeme Macmillan, son of the former Fort William and Scotland goalkeeper, is likely to start in defence in place of Mackenzie, who he replaced in the semi-final against Kingussie.
Macmillan missed an Under-21 cap and the club’s 2015 Camanachd triumph after a badly broken leg kept him out for 16 months.
He played, however, when Lovat lost to Newtonmore in the 2018 final. Bailey Mackay is also in contention for a place.
Former Scotland skipper Finlay MacRae, in his 20th season in Kinlochshiel’s side, took a stick across the knee against Kyles and even feared a bone fracture.
But the immensely talented performer is determined to play and has been in full training this week and will start.
Defenders Conor Cormack and Ally Nixon took knocks in the last game at Strathglass, but have responded to treatment.
This Saturday 18th September it’s the 2021 @tulloch_homes Camanachd Cup Final! Grab your tickets online now to watch Scotland’s true national sport live in Oban 🏆
🎟 Entry: Tickets are still available online at https://t.co/1BvSTKjBam pic.twitter.com/QVyq9nroAS
— Shinty (@camanachd) September 15, 2021
Shiel manager Johnston Gill said:”It would be quite a privilege for Kinlochshiel’s name to go on the trophy for the first time in the 125th final but we know that will take a tremendous effort.
“I think you could hardly squeeze a straw between Lovat and ourselves in terms of ability and it’ll be a case of who rises to the occasion on the day.
“It’s a massive thing for Wester Ross, everyone’s talking about it. Things are falling into place for us and we certainly won’t fail for lack of commitment.”
As well as seven experienced internationals, youngsters Duncan Matheson, ‘WD’ MacRae and Archie MacRae will be in the Shiel squad making history.
Because of the pandemic, there will be no overnight hotel stops for the teams and both will have early morning starts as they head for Argyll.
Lovat’s cup successes were in 1953 and 2015, and on the latter occasion Jamie Matheson was a late withdrawal from the team because his son was being born.
He said: “I missed a winner’s medal but I’m in the final in my first year as club manager.
“Murray is six on Sunday so if we win it would be an ideal double celebration!”