Almost 20 years to the day since shinty’s return to the Long Island in a similar manner, the modern day players of Camanachd Leòdhais gathered at Bayhead in Stornoway on Saturday 3rd January for the traditional Iomain Challainn New Year shinty game.
The teams were divided on the day in the traditional fashion, playing under the tutelage of first team coach Conor Macdonald and Lochs Juniors coach Al Reed respectively. Macdonald’s team donned orange and Reed’s team wore green.
Despite the frozen conditions, there was a decent sized crowd in attendance and the match was preceded by a minute’s silence for the late Councillor Coinneach M Murray, whose family have a strong connection with the club.
On 8 minutes, the Oranges took the lead, with Ally Lamont claiming the credit. Ten minutes later, Lamont claimed a second following a goal mouth scramble and then he added his third on 25 minutes. The only player to really dispute the hat-trick was his own brother Donald, sibling rivalry definitely playing a part as they were both on the same side!
The match was being played in a great spirit, with club manager Iain “Diablo” Sinclair, who was referee for the day, only being exercised by having to avoid the ball with some fancy footwork as it zinged from end to end on the frosty park.
After a quick interval with the scores remaining 3-0 to the Oranges, youngster Ruairidh MacMillan, who featured in the first team in phases last year, opened the scoring after 9 minutes of the second half with a cracking solo effort.
In the second half, the new Lewis Ladies section also had the chance to shine and Saskia Wilson, Alicia MacSween and Anna MacRae were all involved in some great play which bodes well for their entry into mainland competition in the spring.
MacMillan showed even more promising skills when he slammed home his second to give Macdonald’s Yellows an unassailable 5-0 lead. Then Scott MacLeod deceived the keeper moments later with a nutmeg to make it 6-0 and bring an entertaining day’s play to a close.
In the evening, players, committee members, supporters and family all gathered at the Stornoway Golf Club for the Camanachd Leòdhais Awards Dinner. Paul Duke was named Senior Player of the Year, having won previously in 2011, and Scott MacLeod retained his Young Player of the Year Award from 2013. A great night was had by all as the club look forward to an exciting 2015, their fifth season in the North Leagues and with their new ladies section taking part in the WCA competitions it promises to be a good year for all.
Meanwhile in Uist, an intrepid band of players also gathered for a more informal match at Sgoil Phaibil, carrying on the New Year tradition in the Southern Isles.
Camanachd Leòdhais, Nicolson Institute, Stornoway Primary and Camain nan Loch training will all be resuming now that the festive period is passed. There is also interest in starting a youth section in Point, so anybody interested in assisting with that should feel free to contact the club via Iain Sinclair at the Nicolson Institute.