In the build up to the Liberty British Aluminium Balliemore Cup Final we have been interviewing players from each side. Namely Fort William’s Arran MacPhee and Glasgow Mid Argyll’s Jamie McFadyen. With only one day to go until the eagerly awaited final, we have decided to give you two interviews at once – which was definitely intentional and not in any way, shape or form the product of poor planning.
Today we shall be featuring interviews from both Ryan Harrison, Vice-Captain and Full Back of Glasgow Mid Argyll, and Sean Cameron, Fort William player and Liberty employee.
How has the journey to the final been?
SC: This cup competition is made up of teams from our league - the National, and the highest ranked 1st Teams from North 1 and South 1, so for our games all to be against teams from our own league certainly meant this wasn’t an easy route to the final, the semi-final against Glenurqhart was a very closely contested game.
RH: Pulling Skye in the first round wasn’t ideal as we expected to meet them in the latter stages. However, a big win in that game set our benchmark for the rest of the cup games and we built our confidence from there.
How confident are you ahead of the final?
RH: I personally am as confident as I ever have been for a game like this. The defence has been playing well all season and in the last few games the midfield and forwards have been gelling very well and are starting to play some really good shinty. Boys have been missing through injuries and suspensions, so other lads have stepped in or played out of position and put in a shift. So Bainy has a bit of a headache for who he plays in this game, which is an excellent position for us to be in. We are certainly more than capable of winning this game and it’s up to us to play how we know we can on the day.
SC: Very confident – getting to any final is tough and we have won all our 13 league games so far this season so we are in good form, our forwards are scoring lots of goals so we are definitely confident in the Shinty we are playing.
What do you think about the opposition? What kind of challenge will they represent?
SC: GMA are well established as one of the top teams in South Shinty and I know the club well as I played there a few seasons while studying in Glasgow. They are also having a good season, and beating Skye in the first round was the standout tie of their run to the final. We haven’t forgotten that GMA knocked us out of the competition in last year’s semi-final, and for them to make the final two years running shows their quality. They will be determined to go one better this year and win the trophy so we know we face tough opposition.
RH: Fort William are a young, fit side who have come up through the ranks together. They are playing incredibly well in all competitions and they won the Balliemore in 2018 so we cannot misplace them as “inexperienced”. They have a few standout players but their main asset is that they play well as a team and they like to play a high tempo of shinty, a bit like ourselves. They are undefeated in the league, so they are obviously doing something right.
How do you think you can stop Fort William, considering they are unbeaten in the league so far?
RH: If we dominate the midfield and suffocate them in defence then we can win this game. We will be going into this game as the underdogs which should work in our favour. They are a team that score a lot of goals and we will be looking to keep a close eye on the likes of Arran MacPhee and Lachie Shaw as they have been formidable in front of goal this season. It’s a game we will both be right up for and I look forward to it when it comes.
Do you think playing at home going to give you a competitive advantage? Why/why not?
SC: I think it is an advantage to play in front of a home crowd, but more importantly I hope there is a big turnout and it creates an atmosphere, GMA will definitely have good numbers of fans with them too. An Aird is in great condition again this season but I don’t see that giving either team an advantage though, as both teams like to play free flowing Shinty.
Saturday's game looks set to be a cracker with neither side giving an inch. If you want to see two giants of the National League collide then throw up is at 2.30pm at An Aird, Fort William.
If you are interested in seeing another of shinty's great finals, Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final tickets are on sale now!