Keith Loades is set to become Kinlochshiel’s first ever president of the Camanachd Association and even before the club clinched its first ever Marine Harvest Premier League title on Saturday the timing could hardly have been more felicitous.

The former international player has been a prime mover in the work in progress that has been the development of the new ground on which they are set to start next season which marks the 60th anniversary of the club’s formation since the amalgamation of the struggling Kintail, Lochalsh and Glenshiel clubs.

The history he most wanted to see took place in Oban on Saturday, however as, on the same Mossfield Park pitch on which their previous greatest day took place a year ago when they beat Inveraray to win the Macaulay Cup, their first national trophy, they became only the second team, following in the footsteps of Fort William in 2006, to take the league title out of Badenoch and the stranglehold held initially by Kingussie and more recently Newtonmore.

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Loades had been part of that process, too, having previously co-managed the team with Johnston Gill, the man who returned to the role of team manager this year to oversee this success and while he is currently the Camanachd Association’s competitions convener no-one could object to any breach of neutrality as he paid tribute to the work done by his old comrade.

“Johnston has been absolutely fantastic for the club,” he said. “The man’s commitment is second to none. He’s a brilliant man-manager, he’s got a brilliant shinty brain on him and he’s so enthusiastic. He gets on well with the boys and they respect him, so you can’t ask more from a manager than that.”

Gill has clearly made the very most of meagre resources and while a team that had lost just one league match all season put in a nervous showing in Saturday’s scoreless first half against Oban Camanachd, they responded brilliantly to his reminder during the interval to re-focus on what they do best.

While they only needed to draw and boasted the competition’s most effective defence this season, holding on for a draw is never a realistic option in shinty, but an exhibition of their strengths eased the pressure within two minutes of the re-start, stretching play wide before shifting the ball quickly infield where John MacRae set up a shooting chance that Jordan Fraser unhesitatingly accepted. When the substitute rattled in his second midway through the half it was pretty much all over, Keith MacRae’s third simply allowing the travelling support to start early on a party that was expected to last the entire weekend and beyond in Wester Ross.

“It’s absolutely huge. You couldn’t measure this. The community have supported Kinlochshiel now over many, many years, especially this last few years since we’ve had a bit of success,” said Loades. “Without the community we’d be nothing. We wouldn’t have the financial support, we wouldn’t be where we are at all.”

The hope must be that this success galvanises further backing for the project which will see them move into their new home after many years of having to put up with playing at a venue which is considered to be amongst the most scenic in sport but could not be more basic, as Loades acknowledged.

“It’s great for everyone up there that the new ground should come into play next year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to that. We’re a small community and to win the Premier League is just fantastic from the resources we have. We’ve all worked together and we’re looking forward to getting a new facility at Balmacara. Kirkton’s server us well over the last fifty odd years, but it was probably the worst facility in shinty. Now we can look forward to a very good field for next year and looking forward from that to a changing room and clubhouse to follow, although that may take some time.”

A home fit for champions is clearly the objective and they can now continue to pursue it knowing it is no more than they are entitled to.