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Full nameKinlochshiel Shinty Club
Gaelic nameComann Camanachd Cheann Loch Seile
GroundRèaraig , Balmacara
ManagerWille MacRae
LeagueMarine Harvest Premiership
Reserve ManagerRoss MacMillan
LeagueNorth Division One

Kinlochshiel Shinty Club is a shinty club based in RearaigBalmacara, near Kyle of Lochalsh, Lochalsh, Scotland. The club has two sides, a senior team which competes in the Mowi Premiership and a reserve team in North Division One.

Kinlochshiel won their first ever senior national trophy winning the 2016 MacAulay Cup. In 2017 they won their inaugural Premiership becoming only the fourth team to do so and the second not based in Badenoch. In 2021 they completed a club grand slam by adding the Camanachd Cup and MacTavish Cup for the first time.


The club was the result of an amalgamation of three clubs Kintail, Lochalsh and Glenshiel, who first joined forces in 1958.[1] These teams competed for the Conchra Cup[2] alongside Lochcarron

The club won its first trophy in the form of the Sutherland Cup in 1962 and the Strathdearn in 1975. Whilst the club have been successful over the years, a troublesome patch in the 1990s led to Kinlochshiel dropping down to the lowest division in the North and working their way back up the leagues and re-establishing a reserve team. This has reaped long term benefits and the club are now considered one of the best teams outside the top flight. The club boasts international players Finlay MacRae and Keith MacRae in their ranks.

In 2006, the club was joined by the wider shinty community in mourning for Johnny "Ach" Macrae, referee co-ordinator for the Camanachd Association and former North Player of the Year who died at the age of 50. His funeral was attended by over 3000 people.

The Modern Era 2006-2015[edit]

Kinlochshiel in the 2009 Balliemore Final

2007 was a very successful year for the club as they won North Division Three and the Balliemore Cup. The club won the Balliemore Cup on 1 September 2007 against Glenurquhart in a rearranged match at Newtonmore after the first game was rained out on 17 August 2007 in Oban. The first team also missed out on promotion to the Premier Division, coming second in North Division One. In 2009, the club reached the Balliemore Cup Final for the fifth time, losing 5–1 to Strathglass. Again, the club reached the Balliemore Final in 2010 and defeated Lochaber Camanachd on penalties after a late comeback which saw them go 4–3 down in injury-time then force extra-time with the last hit of the ball. The final save in the penalty shoot out gained internet notoriety as it was accidentally saved by keeper Graham Kennedy with his head – technically a foul which should have resulted in a retake – and also an unwise decision to make regarding personal safety.[3][4]

Co-manager Keith Loades stepped down in December 2010, leaving Johnston Gill in sole charge of the team for 2011.[5] Gill then guided the team to North Division 1 success in stunning form.[6]

The club moved from its traditional home at Kirkton to a new field at Reraig, which the club purchased in 2010 in 2020.[7]

After the successful 2011 season, which saw Shiel become the only team to ever win the league with a 100% record, the 2012 season has seen them reach the Camanachd Cup semi-final, which they lost to Inveraray, and consolidate strongly in the Premiership with wins against Kingussie, Newtonmore and Kyles.[8]

The club have consolidated their position within the Premiership since 2012, but they did not vanquish relegation worries in 2013 until the last few weeks of the season. Relegation was also a worry towards the end of the season, and it took until Lochaber Camanachd's last game to cement Shiel's position in the Premiership for the following 2015 season. As the start of the season draws ever closer, the 1st Team will remain under Colin "Beaver" Fraser, whilst the second's will also stay under Willie "DoonceMoth" MacRae.

Work started on the new pitch at Reraig, Balmacara in September 2014. The project, which it had been hoped to be ready for playing towards the end of the 2015 season finally opened in 2020. It has been funded by sportscotland and Highland Council, as well as very generous donations from the late John Clamp and Leslie Rush. It was initially made possible by the generosity of Mrs Katherine Grant, whose late husband was president of the club for many years. The next development phase will be a multi-purpose building with changing rooms, training/meeting room, kitchen and spectator facilities.

Kinlochshiel had a bright future ahead, with young stars such as Nathan Whear, Jonnie MacAskill and Fergus Dobson. The Boys from Kyle, Glenelg and Dornie respectively, are all regular starters in Shiel's second team and are looking forward to a promising season ahead under the wing of Willie "DoonceMoth" MacRae.

The Golden Generation 2016-present[edit]

2016 saw the club push for the top of the Premiership, aided by the signing from Beauly of Scotland international Conor Cormack. The club were too easily defeated in the Camanachd Cup semi-final in August 2016 by Newtonmore but under new manager Colin Fraser the club made history in September 2016 when they defeated Inveraray 5–3 in the MacAulay Cup final. This was their first senior national trophy. The game was broadcast live on BBC Two.

In 2017, the club had its most successful season ever when it secured for the first time the Premier Division title. They were pursued all season long by Kyles Athletic, but a 4–0 win at Kirkton gave Kyles the edge going towards a final day game at Oban. With Kyles' game cancelled due to wet weather, Shiel overcame Oban Camanachd 2–0 to spark scenes of celebration. Shiel were the only club outside of Badenoch, other than Fort William to ever win the Premier title.

Kinlochshiel played Lovat in the 2021 Camanachd Cup final, their first ever appearance in the final of the competition.[9] They won the cup 3-1 in Oban. a couple of months later they added the MacTavish Cup with an 3-2 victory over 2019 Premiership Champions Kingussie. This completed a full list of senior honours for the club, all won within 5 years.

Clash of the Ash[edit]

The club is the only team specifically referred to in the Runrig song, Clash of the Ash, in the line;

"Tell me who's gonna mark the Kinlochshiel Bear He's hard as nails, quick as a flash He comes down from the caves For the clash of the ash"

– Clash of the Ash, C&R MacDonald, 2007


  1. ^ "Home".
  2. ^ "Am Baile - Kintail Shinty Team". Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  3. ^ "A managerial meltdown, footballers going (Lady) Gaga and a painful save". The Guardian. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  4. ^ Shinty keeper saves. BBC Alba. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Shinty: Keith Loades' workload ends term at Kinlochshiel". The Scotsman. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  6. ^ Innes, Gary (23 August 2011). "Newtonmore pipped at the post". BBC Sport.
  7. ^ "Kinlochshiel celebrate as new home at Rèaraig officially opens". 22 February 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  8. ^ "Shinty: Record-breaking Kinlochshiel out to make another piece of history". The Herald. Glasgow. 4 August 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Kinlochshiel & Lovat ready for final". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 September 2021.

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