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Shinty: Mainland twins return for unbeaten Lovat ahead of MacTavish Cup quarter-final

Craig Mainland (Lovat) and David Lafferty (Oban) jostle for the ball.
Craig Mainland (Lovat) and David Lafferty (Oban) jostle for the ball.

Unbeaten Lovat welcome back twins Craig and Martin Mainland for Saturday’s Cottages.Com MacTavish Cup quarter-final at home to Kilmallie.

Martin has missed most of the campaign due to his amateur football commitments but he and internationalist Craig both make their comebacks.

The winners of this weekend’s encounter will visit Kingussie in next weekend’s semi-final.

International defender Callum Cruden returns from suspension and Lovat manager Jamie Matheson says: “This is the first time this year we’ve had everyone available and the timing is good with some big games coming up.”

Lovat maintained their 100 per cent record with a 4-1 win at Kilmallie last weekend in the Artemis Macaulay Cup to make it five straight wins and only one goal conceded.

But Matheson stressed: “Kilmallie were very decent and two late goals for us extended the scoreline, so we can’t afford any complacency this time.”

Kilmallie head to Lovat on cup duty this weekend. 

Skipper Robbie MacFadyen and Jamie Macleod return for Kilmallie but the Caol outfit are still without Michael Rodger and Steve Macallister.

Manager Martin Stewart said: “We did enough to show we’re not far away from clicking into gear so we’ll head for Kiltarlity in positive mindset.”

Glasgow Mid Argyll have injury doubts over ex-Kingussie attacker Chris Hollysong and skipper John Don Mackenzie for their Celtic Society Cup quarter final against Oban Celtic at Petersen Park.

Manager Allan MacRae said: “Chris and John picked up knocks in our Macaulay Cup defeat at Oban Camanachd and it’ll be late fitness tests for both.

“But we’ll have Ewen Fraser and Oliver MacRae, formerly of Newtonmore and Kinlochshiel respectively, available again.”

Lennon Campbell carries a threat for Celts but Mid Argyll start firm favourites to book the semi-final spot.

Skye begin their defence of the Ferguson Transport and Shipping Balliemore Cup when they face Glengarry at Invergarry. James Pringle’s double helped the islanders beat Beauly 3-1 at Fort William in last year’s final and Kenny Macleod’s National Division men are unbeaten.

Strathglass, winners in 2009, visit Glen Urquhart after losing 4-1 to the same opponents last weekend when Connor Golabek struck twice. Glen’s last Balliemore triumph was 31 years ago but they are one of the favourites this year.

Lochaber, who lifted the trophy ten years ago, visit Inverness with manager Danny Delaney aiming to overcome the team-raising difficulties which saw the Spean Bridge side scratch from the Macaulay competition.

Former Scotland star John MacDonald hit a treble on his Ballachulish comeback last weekend and visitors Col Glen will need to be wary of him.

Bute, four times Balliemore winners, the most recent in 2013, head for Fife for the second successive weekend, with Aberdour wary of Craig  Fisher, who slammed a hat trick in the islanders’ 5-0 Macaulay Cup success.

In the Highland Industrial Supplies Sutherland Cup, the new ferry schedule means Lewis Camanachd can play at home to Caberfeidh colts, who can return home the same day.

Newtonmore’s Glen Mackintosh.

Veteran Glen Mackintosh scored four goals when Newtonmore beat Lovat 5-1 in last year’s final at Drumnadrochit and he will again require close attention when Kilmallie visit The Eilean.

James MacPherson is back from suspension for Glen Urquhart, who entertain Skye, while Aberdeen University head for Beauly who have Calum Flynn and Kyle Macdonald in scoring form.

Lochaber head for Kingussie while the other tie sees Strathglass welcoming Lovat to a derby clash at Cannich.

From skiing to shinty

Jonathan Foster, who has not played for Fort William this season as he has been working as a ski instructor in the Alps, has returned from his French resort and resumed training for the An Aird club.

But co-manager Victor Smith says it will be a late decision on whether Foster, who made his breakthrough last season, is involved in  their Mowi Premiership tussle with leaders Kingussie at The Dell.

Smith said: “It’s great to have Johnny back and he’s keen to kickstart his shinty career.

“He’s mobile enough to play anywhere in defence or the centre line and should be a real asset for his first Premiership campaign. But we’ll check his fitness to see whether or not this Saturday is too soon for him.”

Calum Shepherd returns for Fort, who lost 4-0 at Kingussie in last weekend’s Macaulay Cup tie.

Kingussie duo Fraser Munro and Rory MacKeachan made their comebacks from injury with second half substitute appearances and are now pushing for a start.

Veteran James Hutchison, out for several weeks, has been in full training and could figure in manager John Gibson’s thoughts as the champions seek to extend their lead at the top.

Oban Camanachd have teed up a triple setback for their clash with Kinlochshiel at Mossfield.

Manager Gareth Evans said: “We’ll be without Malcolm Clark, Daniel Madej and David Cameron, who arranged some time ago to play in a golf event on Islay.”

Shiel, who bounced back to winning vein at Newtonmore, have everyone fit again and are looking to build on that result.

Kieran MacPherson, who won a Premiership medal with Kingussie, has picked up an injury and will miss Caberfeidh’s tussle with Kyles Athletic at Strathpeffer. Teenager Fraser MacDonald is poised to come in at wing centre.  Kyles are again without the injured Andy King.

Cabers boss Jodi Gorski said: “We’ve been long enough in the top flight now to be more ambitious about taking points off the leading teams at Castle Leod.

“This would be a nice time to start.”

In the only National Division fixture, Inveraray’s Lewis Montgomery completes a three game ban by missing their Winterton Park clash with title chasers Beauly, with the Argyll men needing a win to force themselves into the promotion picture.

International duty for Beauly pair

Beauly goal aces Euan McCormick and Finlay Maclennan, who have been scoring freely in their first National Division campaign, have blasted their way into the Scotland Under-17 squad to tour Ireland in July.

They will be joined by clubmate Thomas Mackinnon, making it a cap treble for the Green and Whites – a total only matched by Fort William, who have Cameron Stephen, Craig MacDonald and Sean MacLellan on the Dublin flight.

Kingussie, with George Taylor Ramsay and Iain Fraser, and Skye, with Calum Nicolson and Taylor Matheson, are the only other teams with more than one player selected in the squad led by Camanachd Association youth director Willie MacDonald.

Louie MacFarlane, who has stepped up from Lochside Rovers to make an impact in the Oban Camanachd attack, gains recognition as does  Archie MacRae  who scored for Kinlochshiel in last autumn’s MacTavish Cup triumph.

The squad is completed by Coll MacKay (Inveraray), Jack Nelson (Strathspey, Brodie MacBean (Newtonmore), Finlay Fraser (Glengarry) and Marcus Planck (Bute). Skye-based technology firm Sitekit, headed up by former Aberdeen University and Skye player Campbell Grant, will sponsor the Scotland party.