'Leaving the shinty jersey in a better place than you found it'
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The Camanachd Association has a new president and Kingussie’s Kevin Thain is one of four new additions to the board following shinty’s annual general meeting at the Highland Cinema in Fort William.
Burton Morrison has taken from Steven MacKenzie whose three-year tenure came to an end.
In his annual report, MacKenzie congratulated the game’s competition winners, with the Badenoch clubs to the fore.
He said: “On the field, 2023 was an extremely successful season.
“The Mowi Leagues are all complete and they provided lots of exciting competition from March through to November.
"My congratulations go to Kingussie, Badenoch, Kinlochshiel, Lochaber, Bute, Newtonmore, Dunadd, Kilmory and Lochcarron on their success.
“The Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final between Kingussie and Oban Camanachd saw one of the biggest crowds in recent years gather at the Bught Park, Inverness and more tickets were sold online than ever before.
“Kingussie edged out Oban Camanachd in the final minutes to lift the silverware for the second consecutive year.
“Kingussie also triumphed over the Skye in the cottages.com MacTavish Cup Final.
“The HIS Centenary Sutherland Cup Final was held at Blairbeg, Drumnadrochit, in a day that will live long in the memory for those who attended.
“Newtonmore beat Skye to lift the trophy and in a fantastic gesture worthy of the occasion, Highland Industrial Supplies invited all clubs that have won the trophy post-World War II for music, food and refreshments.”
The revival of the Mowi shinty / hurling international was also welcomed, with CEO Derek Keir praised for his perseverance in restoring relations with the Gaelic Athletic Association as the outgoing president said: “The GAA were gracious and generous hosts for this year’s match played in Newry, County Down.
“In a thrilling contest, a strong Irish side pulled away in the last 10 minutes as Alba chased goals.”
The association has prioritised on three main off-field areas:
• Safety – particularly the use of helmets with faceguards.
• Drug testing – responding to concerns raised by member clubs to introduce a programme of drug-testing. The association are now members of the UKAD programme with a current focus on education.
The Scotland squads completed the associated training and could be subject to in-competition testing at a time of UKAD’s choosing.
• Camanachd Cup replacement and Bught Park development – with the help of sponsors Tulloch, the Camanachd Cup has been replaced by a replica and retired to Inverness Castle as any irreversible damage to the famous trophy has long been a concern for the board.
The association is also preparing a Heritage Lottery application for ‘Shinty’s Story’ which will be a major focus through 2024 and 2025.
Mr MacKenzie concluded: “It has been the privilege of my life to lead the Camanachd Association but this cannot be done alone so I would like to thank all the directors who supported me during my presidency for their efforts.
“There is a sports psychology book written by James Kerr called ‘Legacy’ and it examines the success of the All Blacks at rugby union.
“One of their central tenets is to ‘leave the jersey in a better place than you found it’. I have strived to live up to that adage.”