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Shinty: All eyes on the north

The regional trophies reach the semi-final stage on Saturday with interest especially high in the north's RBS MacTavish Cup after four of the country's top Premier League teams made it through.

The tastiest of the ties will be at Drumnadrochit, where last year's losing finalists Glenurquhart welcome reigning Premier League champions Newtonmore. This is the third year in a row that the sides have met at this stage, with one win apiece.

Newtonmore were comfortable victors in their league encounter, but despite having the strongest pool of players in the sport, they have suffered a series of injuries, with international full-back Norman Campbell the latest casualty and likely to miss the match. Other key players, such as Danny Macrae, Andy Mackintosh and Steven MacDonald, have also missed games due to injury in recent weeks and while they are likely to feature, there is uncertainty as to how they will cope with the intensity of a semi-final.

Glenurquhart will name a strong squad but their fortunes will depend on how many of their players can rise to the big occasion. They are capable of springing a surprise, as they proved with their recent 2-1 victory over Premier League pacesetters Lovat, but inconsistency is their big failing.

In the other north tie, Lovat face a tricky trip to face Kinlochshiel. The sides have met twice this season already with Lovat just coming out on top in both. However, the matches were at home and on the last occasion, in the MacAulay Cup, they had to rely on an extra-time strike from Kevin Bartlett to see off their challengers.

Injuries are also now causing Lovat problems and the loss of Craig Mainland with a fractured hand and Daniel Grieve with ankle damage means they are vulnerable. Kinlochshiel, who made a slow start thanks to poor pre-season preparation due to bad weather, are now picking up and Lovat will not relish the trip to Wester Ross.

In the south, in the AJG Parcels Celtic Society Cup, only two of the teams are Premier sides and few are forecasting that National Division side Glasgow Mid Argyll will progress at the expense of holders Kyles Athletic, even though they have had an indifferent start to the season.

In the remaining tie, Premier side Inveraray should have too much firepower for their visitors, the National Division side Oban Camanachd.

Fraser Mackenzie

o A 3-0 victory over Lochaber saw Newtonmore assume their default position at the top of the Orion Premiership on a day when half the matches in the top flight fell victim to waterlogged pitches. Lochaber have struggled to find the form that brought them a fourth-place finish last season but yesterday they dug in deep as they sought to deny the reigning champions. Fraser MacKintosh opened the scoring in the 28th minute but it took late strikes from Evan Menzies and Calum Stewart to secure the points.

Lovat lost top spot on goal difference after Kyles Athletic's pitch, where they were due to play, failed a Saturday morning pitch inspection with Kinlochshiel's match against Glenurquhart suffering a similar fate. Kingussie are up to third with a 3-2 home win over Inveraray. There was a rare appearance from Ronald Ross, who announced his comeback with two goals in the opening 10 minutes. Inveraray shot back with goals from Lewis MacNicol and Peter MacIntyre before Kingussie grabbed both points courtesy of a late strike from Bob MacGregor.

Elsewhere Aberdour, formed only 10 years ago, are through to the last four of the Balliemore Cup following a 3-2 win over Aberdeen University with Inverness, Skye and Ballachulish all winning to complete the semi-final line-up.

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