IT is a a sport that is not for the faint-hearted and sees two teams of players battle against each other on the pitch with very little protection from the flying ball and sticks.

Played mainly across the Highlands and Argyll, most teams share a bond and bitter rivalries on the pitch are largely forgotten in the bar afterwards.

But the friction between two of shinty’s biggest clubs has moved to a new dimension after a player was cleared by a court of assaulting an opponent during a game.

Kingussie player Fraser Munro, 30, was accused of striking Lochaber’s Jack Dignan, in the face, fracturing his eye socket in two places, in last year’s MacTavish Cup semi-final.

In the first criminal case of its kind in the sport, Fort William Sheriff Court heard the blow, during the match on May 14, 2016, resulted in electrician Mr Dignan, 22, having a metal plate fitted, leaving him ‘permanently impaired’.

The prosecution said Mr Munro, of Kingussie, Inverness-shire, deliberately attacked him.

But he was cleared after a court case, sparking an extraordinary row between the two clubs with Kingussie accusing Lochaber of trying to get their player convicted and banned by putting pressure on investigators including using the victim’s mother.

The Speyside-based giants, which have been named the world’s most successful sports team by the Guinness Book of Records, added that if the prosecution had been successful then it would have had far-reaching consequences for all contact sports.

Originally, Mr Munro was handed a two-match ban by the Camanachd Association for his red card and a further three match suspension after the disciplinary committee ruled he had been reckless in the tackle but had not deliberately inflicted the injury.

But Kingussie claim that Lochaber had emailed the committee ahead of the meeting detailing all the injuries and operations their player had undergone and also included a personal appeal from Mr Dignan’s mother.

According to Kingussie she wrote: “I think we are all aware of the seriousness of this incident with the hope that the Camanachd can deal with it appropriately without it leaving the control of the association”.

Also included in the submission was a video of the incident, photographs and written descriptions of Mr Dignan’s injury.

Kingussie contacted the Camanachd Association to complain about the inclusion of the documents as the severity of the injury was irrelevant to the disciplinary committee as their job was to decide if there was malicious intent when the collision took place.

Kingussie wrote: “Why Dignan’s mother would be permitted to submit a letter is still not clear to us.

“We also asked to see the video if it was to be used but we were told that because it was such poor quality it would not be used. Central to the trial was the Lochaber video which was used extensively by both prosecution and defence.

“It is strange that this video was not deemed good enough quality to be used at a Camanachd Association disciplinary hearing and yet was okay to be used in a court of law.”

Mr Munro was ordered to attend Aviemore Police Station on August 27 and was charged with assaulting Mr Dignan to his ‘severe injury and permanent impairment’.

Kingussie added: “If this prosecution had been successful it would have had far reaching consequences not only for our sport shinty but for every contact sport in Scotland and this was one of the reasons that there was a fair amount of interest in legal circles in this case.

“We feel that certain members of Lochaber Camanachd Club have not acted in the best interests of our sport during this affair and we are disappointed that, in our opinion, they tried to influence the decision of the Camanachd Association disciplinary hearing and then took the matter to the Police."

Lochaber was contacted for comment but did not respond.

A spokesman for the sports governing body, the Camanachd Association, said: “It would not be appropriate for The Camanachd Association to comment on legal matters that have been concluded in court.

“The Camanachd Association refers disciplinary matters to an independent disciplinary committee that deals with all matters relating to players, substitutes, managers and coaches during the course of a match as referred by a Referee or by the system of Standard Disciplinary Points.

“The Camanachd Association continues to work hard alongside our member clubs to protect and enhance shinty’s iconic status in the landscape of Scottish sport, and sustain shinty as a vibrant and integral part of Scottish life.”