THERE is no doubting the Marine Harvest Premiership match of the day on Saturday.
All eyes will be on the clash of the two front-runners for the title, Kinlochshiel and Kyles Athletic, who meet on Shiel’s tight Kirkton pitch.
A win for Johnston Gill’s side would really enhance their chances of becoming league champions for the first time, however they would still have to face Kyles again at Tighbnabruaich.
Therefore, the outcomes of both these fixtures look like having a massive bearing on the destination of the silverware.
Shiel, with a game more played hold a two point advantage over their opponents, so the scene is set for a scintillating tussle between two teams intent on wrestling away the Premiership trophy from Newtonmore whose possession it has been in since 2010.
When the teams met on league business at Kirkton last season in early May, the points were shared after a 2-2 draw, with Shiel winning the return fixture 1-0 three months later.
Newtonmore appear to be back on song as their two recent back-to-back wins over Kyles indicate, the second of which was Kyles’ only league defeat this season.
With Shiel and Kyles still to meet again, More can close the gap on both of their main title rivals.
However, matters are out with their own control and the boys from The Eilean will need someone else to do them a favour, while almost certainly requiring maximum points themselves from their remaining eight games.
Kilmallie, staring a quick return to second tier shinty, play host to P J MacKintosh’s momentum-gathering side on Saturday and will do extremely well to alter its course.
However, Canal Park boss Mark MacPherson can inspire his men by highlighting their spirited performance against More in the MacTavish Cup final last month when they almost took the match in to extra-time, coming back from three goals down before losing 3-2.
With two victories over neighbours Lovat already this season, Glenurquhart really need to make it three when the teams meet at Balgate to steer themselves away from the drop zone.
This will be the fifth time the local rivals have met this season, with Lovat’s only victory being a 3-0 replay win to take the Kiltarlity side through to the quarter-finals of the Camanachd Cup.
A repeat of their early season 2-1 league win at Drumnadrochit would be the ideal tonic for Glen.
It will be interesting to see if new strike signing from Beauly Marc MacLachlan is included in Fraser Gallacher’s starting line-up.
Glasgow Mid Argyll and Lochaber meet at Peterson Park where a win for the visitors would go a long way to securing their Premiership survival, while intensifying the pressure on the hosts, who sit bottom of the table level on points with Kilmallie.
Lochaber were 2-1 victors when the teams met at Spean Bridge last month and a similar outcome would open up a four-point gap on the Yoker side.
Marine Harvest National Division leaders Caberfeidh can expect a tough match when they head to Ganavan to face a decent Oban Celtic side, whose confidence is on the up. Cabers were 4-2 winners at Castle Leod and should make their firepower count to maintain their single-point lead at the top of the table.
Fellow title candidates Skye are Braeview Park bound and will need to be totally focused if they are to prevent Allan MacRae’s developing Beauly side from impacting upon the undefeated record they share with Cabers.
After a 4-0 win when the teams met in Portree in mid-May, a skilful blend of youth and experience is likely to contribute significantly to Skye’s acquisition of a further two points.
At the other end of the table, points will be much sought-after at the Bught when basement side Inverness take on second bottom Strathglass.
The city side have yet to experience a league victory this season and should they lose this one, the Cannich side would open up a five-point gap which would leave Inverness having to win all their remaining three matches to avoid relegation.
Fort William’s An Aird is the venue for the final of the Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup, the reserve championship of Scotland.
Battling it out for this honour are Kingussie and Lochside Rovers. Kings are targeting a 10th win in this competition to take them alongside Kyles Athletic as second in the list of all-time winners, one short of Badenoch rivals Newtonmore.