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Kirsty Deans on her shinty ambitions at Badenoch and ‘positives’ from football season with Inverness Caley Thistle

Kirsty Deans made history while turning out for Kingussie this weekend.
Kirsty Deans made history while turning out for Kingussie this weekend.

Kirsty Deans’ full focus is on skippering Badenoch to shinty glory, after rounding off the football season with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

The shinty and football star previously had to split her time between both sports, as their seasons crossed over.

However, now that women’s football has moved to playing over the winter instead of summer, this year is the first time the 30-year-old has been able to dedicate her full attention to both of her passions.

Deans signed off the football season last weekend with a goal, as the Caley Jags beat Westdyke 2-0 at the Caledonian Stadium.

Meanwhile, Badenoch are currently unbeaten in their first four games of the season, and Deans has been able to chip in with goals against Aberdour and Lochaber.

Deans did miss a couple of Badenoch games in order to finish the football season, but is glad she’ll no longer have to pick between her two passions.

“It’s been a juggling act and I’ve had to sacrifice one over the other for the last ten years,” she said.

“It’s nice to be able to commit to both now, and to not have that guilt about letting either of the teams down.

Kirsty Deans celebrates her goal for Caley Thistle Women against Westdyke. Picture supplied by Peter Paul/caleyjags.com

“Being Badenoch captain, I’ve felt guilty that I’ve not managed to make all the games so far.

“It was a compromise and the girls were really understanding and know that I’ll be fully committed going forward.

“I’m really looking forward to this season and getting back with the team.”

League and cup silverware is the aim

Last year Badenoch split their squad into two teams which were balanced with senior and junior players and opted to play in the local divisions.

This season Badenoch A have returned to league action in the WCA Mowi National Division – and have set their sights on more than one bit of silverware.

“It’s really exciting to be back playing with each other again – we’ve not really played together as a team for almost two years,” Deans said.

“The atmosphere at training and on game-days has been really positive.

“We have our sights set really high this year and want to come back strong after nicking that league for the first time in the last proper season that we had.

“Can we go one better this year and get a wee double with the cup as well? That’s certainly the aim.”

And by splitting the squad last year, Badenoch have been able to progress some of their younger players, who will now play in North Division 2 with Badenoch’s second string.

Deans explained: “It’s the first season that the club has had a second team, so for them to play in league games is really exciting.

“It will be good motivation for all the younger ones coming through the pathway.”

Positives to take away from Caley Thistle’s season

Inverness Caley Thistle finished Championship North in fourth spot, falling short of their target of promotion to SWPL 2.

Dean admits that there is a sense of “disappointment” they didn’t achieve their goal, but reckons there are still plenty of positives to take away.

This season saw several young players from Caley Thistle’s development side, who play in the SWF Highlands and Islands league, break into the squad.

And for Deans, who captained the senior team this term, her life was made easy by how well the youngsters settled in and contributed on the pitch.

She said: “There were a couple of girls who stepped up from the Highlands and Islands team and a couple other young ones who came into the squad.

“Their work rate was phenomenal. It was easy for them to get along with everyone in the squad, so it meant by job was very straightforward.

“They started to get regular game time and got in amongst the goals, so that’ll put us in good stead for next season.”

Two of those young players were recognised at the club’s awards night, as Tina Kelly and Abbey Ross won Young Player of the Year and Most Improved, respectively.

Deans was also in about the accolades, winning Player and Player’s Player of the Year, and was delighted to be recognised by her peers.

“It is lovely to be acknowledged individually, and I’m delighted with both of the awards,” Deans added.

“They’re not awards that anyone expects to get, but I certainly didn’t expect to get both of them. It’s a massive credit to the team as well.

“As a midfielder, there’s a lot going on around you and you can run around, but – if you don’t create chances and people don’t take them – then your passes don’t look half as good.

“Although it’s nice to get credit from the coaches, it’s the player’s player award that you get a real sense of pride with, because it’s your teammates who have voted for you.”

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