With March the First and the first day proper of the Shinty season swiftly approaching, Camanachd Leòdhais’ season is starting to take shape.
The make-up of North Division Three is now known, after a period of uncertainty regarding the entry of certain teams. Re-organisation of the higher leagues has led to the lowest tier being cut to 6 teams after Strathglass withdrew their reserves from league competition to focus on the cups. This will obviously impact the number of games but solutions are presenting themselves.
The Camanachd Association seem likely to go for a 15 game season, with teams playing each other 3 times. This seems to have the backing of most clubs but it may be a bone of contention for league favourites Kilmallie if they need to come to Lewis twice. Lewis may alternately have to make two trips to Caol. However, a neutral venue could be sought for the game between these two sides.
Iain Sinclair, Lewis manager, is happy with whatever format the Association decide upon; “We just want to play shinty, there are drawbacks with both a 10 and a 15 game season, but I am looking forward to an open and competitive league.”
In the cup draws for the Sutherland and Strathdearn Cups, which Lewis have entered after a self-imposed hiatus to focus on the initial seasons in the leagues, the Leòdhasaich have been drawn against North Two giants Lovat away in the Sutherland and North Three Rivals Strathspey at home in the Strathdearn.
Lewis should warm up with games against Lochcarron and Lochbroom in February, but a home friendly may be lacking this season. Lewis will not play at home until the ferry timetable changes in May.
Sinclair has bolstered his squad over the winter with the signing of Kenny “Duffy” Murray, a Lochcarron veteran with strong Lewis connections, and Angus Murray, who has good experience of success playing at University at Strathclyde.
There are good numbers attending youth training at the Nicolson Institute and it would be good to see more of these youngsters attend the healthy but small numbers on a Saturday morning at 10am at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais.