SATURDAY is Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup quarter-finals day, with five Premiership and three National Division teams all bidding to make it through to the last four of shinty’s blue riband competition.
All four ties have an attractive look to them, but none more so than the clash of Newtonmore and Kyles Athletic at The Eilean.
Both teams have a proud history in the Camanachd Cup with Newtonmore holding the record for most triumphs with 31 to their name, while Kyles with 21 successes, lie third in the list of all-time winners, just two less than Kingussie.
However, since the millennium, successes for these teams have been fairly minimal, with More lifting this coveted piece of silverware just three times, while Kyles have only managed to get their hands on it once.
While More go in to this latest meeting of the teams as holders of the trophy, it is Kyles with their unbeaten record this season that start as favourites.
However, the form book will count for nothing on Saturday and you can be sure More manager PJ MacKintosh will call upon all of his considerable experience to engineer a victory that will dispel any thoughts of a demise of the seven in a row Premiership champions.
Kilmallie, one of three teams sitting bottom of the Premiership table on the five-point mark, face mid-table Lovat at Canal Park.
Home boss Mark MacPherson will cast aside the worries of top-flight survival for the day and will be urging his men to display the qualities that saw them reach the MacTavish Cup final.
Should MacPherson get that level of performance then Lovat will be in for a game. Lovat, whose Camanachd Cup win of 2015 will still be fresh in their memories, will be keen to sample that glory again. A 4 – 2 win at Balgate was the outcome when the teams met in the league in mid March at Balgate and Fraser Gallacher will be driving his men towards more of the same to secure a place in the last four and move to within 90 minutes of another final appearance.
With Strathglass and Skye going head-to-head at Cannich, a National Division side is assured of a place in the semi-finals.
This will be the fourth times these teams have met this season and, with Skye coming out on top in all three previous clashes, the island side look strong favourites to advance.
If Strath are to halt Skye’s progress, they will have to keep a lively attack at bay that rattled in six goals in Portree when the teams faced up to each other on league business last Saturday.
Inveraray and Oban Camanachd meet in a tasty tie at The Winterton where Oban are tipped to move closer to a second successive Camanachd Cup final.
Having exited all cup competitions, Kinlochshiel now have their eyes firmly set on Premiership glory and a chance to go level on points with pacesetters Kyles Athletic presents itself when they take on Lochaber at Kirkton.
Ally Ferguson’s men performed admirably when Shiel visited Spean Bridge three weeks ago, earning a 1-1 draw and will take confidence from that result as they attempt to steer themselves away from the foot of the table.
In Saturday’s other Premiership encounter, Glenurquhart and Kingussie meet at Drumnadrochit where Glen will hope to add some points to the eight they have on the board after taking just three points from their last five league fixtures.
With a Balliemore Cup final to prepare for just a week later, Fort William’s management team of Victor Smith and Addie Robertson will be looking for a morale-boosting performance when Beauly make the journey to Fort William in the National Division.
A 2-2 draw was the result in the previous meeting at Braeview Park and that has been Fort’s only point dropped to date.
Beauly are looking to register their third consecutive league win and will do well to do so at the expense of a Fort side gathering momentum.
At the Bught, Inverness will be striving to secure a first league win of the season against Oban Celtic, whose only victory was achieved against Drew McNeil’s charges who were defeated 5-3 in a thriller at Ganavan in late May.
An Inverness win would see Oban Celtic take over bottom spot from their opponents.