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Shinty: Record-breaking Kinlochshiel out to make another piece of history

Every once in a while in sport a team comes along that grasps its moment and today's Camanachd Cup semi-final features one that could just do it.

The name of Kinlochshiel has never been chiselled into the ornate base of the sport's most important trophy since it was first contested more than a century ago.

The small club from Balmacara, close to the Skye Bridge, has simply never made an impression in the competition. Indeed, the semi-final against Inveraray, televised live from An Aird on BBC Alba, is their first. What a tale it would be, then, if they could make it to the final in Oban in September.

If anyone was under any illusion that this journey is a fluke, they are mistaken. Here's why. Last year, the club won promotion to the Orion Group Premiership on the back of an unbeaten run which lasted the entire campaign. This season, Kinlochshiel have beaten Kingussie, double winners Kyles Athletic and the champions Newtonmore.

The club, meanwhile, is homing in on finance for a new park and clubhouse at Reraig that will take them away from the soggy Kirkton in a £500,000 flit.

Whatever happens today, their manager Johnston Gill knows that the club has progressed beyond all expectation. "This is the most successful Kinlochshiel side in history; we've broken a few records recently.

"We were the first club to win North Division One unbeaten. When we beat Kingussie, it was the first time in 30 years we'd done that, and we've done it again since then. It was the same against Newtonmore; it was 30 years since we had beaten them. Now we are in the semi-finals of the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup and we'll just have to see how we go from here."

Even Kinlochshiel's path to today's semi-final is worthy of recognition. They have beaten last year's finalists Kingussie and title hopefuls Lovat.

One side they have been unable to get a handle on, though, just happens to be today's opponents, Inveraray. The Argyll side lost at this stage of the competition last year and will be a prickly proposition. They also have vast experience when it comes to the Camanachd Cup; some of the players from the 2004 triumph are still playing.

"They are a bit more battle-hardened when it comes to these occasions," admits Gill. "Then again, our young players tend to be quite fearless. They will just do what they need to do today."

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