Kinlochshiel boss says regionalised 2021 shinty league structure gave youth chance
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For some clubs, shinty’s league format has been something of an afterthought in 2021.
With the regionalised set-up temporarily replacing the Premiership and National Divisions while the pandemic is still affecting things, those mini-league matches generally served as warm-ups for the more prestigious cup competitions that ran nearly as normal this year.
Covid has continued to have an impact on specific matches too, with it not uncommon to see several call-offs because clubs have too many players either testing positive or isolating.
Senior clubs were split into three leagues of six teams, with the idea being to play everyone else in the division twice, but the number of games each club have completed fluctuates wildly.
Some, like Caberfeidh in Senior League B, played eight times in the league, while others like Kyles Athletic in Senior League C only played twice.
Across the country, then, shinty clubs will be breathing a sigh of relief that plans seem to have the pre-Covid pyramid structure returning for 2022.
Kinlochshiel are no different, with manager Johnston Gill desperate to have another crack at Premiership glory, but 2021 has been a good year for his side anyway.
The Balmacara side managed to claim first-time triumphs in the Camanachd Cup and MacTavish Cup to complete the set of senior shinty trophies, but Gill believes the league structure this year bodes well for the club’s future too.
“It has really been good for me as a manager that we’ve been able to have this league,” Gill reasoned.
“It has been very good to us because I’ve been able to blood quite a few young guys, and it gives them an idea of what they will be up against.
“They will be up against the likes of Fort William, Lochaber, Skye, so they will realise that it’s a wee bit faster than they’re used to. It has been good in that sense.”