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The message from a crunch meeting on the future of Mid Argyll shinty was a stark one.
The very existence of the sport in the region is under threat unless shinty players, parents, fans and volunteers – and the game’s ruling body – rally round to give it new life.
Kilmory senior team had trouble fielding a side towards the end of the 2018 season and intends to compete in South Division Two next season, a league below where they currently play. The purpose behind this is to consolidate by bringing younger players into the adult game at a less competitive level.
Feelings were running high in Lochgilphead’s Stag Hotel during the gathering of people with an interest in the game on Monday October 1.
Anger lingers in Mid Argyll over the reinstatement by the Camanachd Association of a formerly-mothballed rule limiting the pool of players from which primary school teams can be selected to avoid ‘cherry-picking’ the best players from a wide pool. This 150-pupil rule effectively barred Kilmory and Dunadd junior shinty teams from competing in the MacKay and Tulloch Cup competitions as the club recruits from three primary schools – Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Glassary – which have a combined roll of around 350. There are, however, fewer than 40 players to choose from across all age groups.
As a compromise, Kilmory and Dunadd has proposed a voluntary 50-player cap, and this has been passed to the Camanachd Association.
Faced with frustrated parents, Argyll and Bute shinty development officer Euan McMurdo agreed to support the club’s suggestion, and this will be considered as the rules for the 2019 youth cups are drawn up – but he was keen to move things forward in a positive way in a wider sense.
The 30 or so people in the room were split into smaller groups to come up with pros and cons surrounding the current Mid Argyll shinty scene, from primary school to senior level, male and female. The points will be collated by Euan and used as the basis for an action plan for the future.
One point identified was the fact that three shinty clubs exist around Lochgilphead, covering senior (Kilmory), junior (Kilmory and Dunadd) and ladies (Dunadd). There was agreement that they will work more closely together, perhaps moving to becoming a single club.
Kilmory chairman Angus Gilmour said: ‘Shinty in Mid Argyll is extremely fragile and could collapse if we don’t get more volunteers and better support from the Camanachd Association.’
He concluded: ‘But let’s be positive and go forward together for the future of shinty in the area.’