OBAN, currently the home of shinty's major trophy, the Glenmorangie Camanachd Cup, is also leading the game in a very different field - the development of women's shinty.

Although the rules of the game allow mixed teams, until very recently the only females playing were primary school girls with physical prowess to compete and fewer social inhibitions to overcome. Now there are plans for a women's league starting early in the new year.

The Oban Caman-cheros already have an under-14 side competing successfully in the local winter league, and they are unbeaten at senior 12-a-side level. Siobahn Rydings (16) shows the typical background, having started in primary school, played for a short time with Taynuilt before the club stopped selecting her, and then picking up a Caman again with Caman-cheros.

Her father, Clark, who helps coach the side, is looking for new players. ``The oldest of our players is 16 and we would like some older players involved. We are also looking for teams to play against, because the girls are really en-thusiastic,'' he said.

Camancheros' main opposition is Dunadd Camanachd of Lochgilphead, who have a very different age profile, from 12 to 40-year-old. The club has 28 members, of whom 15 train every week - a turnout many male clubs envy.

Dunadd are hoping the teams from Glengarry and St Andrews will make up a four-club inaugural league. President Debbie Smyth said: ``I'm sure the women's form of the game will become very popular. It can only be good for shinty to have more women taking part.''

The evidence from Ireland supports her view, the women's version of hurling being a well-supported game involving more females than there are male shinty players in the whole of Scotland, where there is, perhaps surprisingly in such a traditional environment as shinty, at least support for the women's game from the men.