On the back of the most vibrant shinty seasons since a full national league competition was introduced sponsors Marine Harvest have agreed to extend one of the longest sponsorships in sport.

This year marked the 30th of the fish farming company’s support of the Camanachd Association (CA) and this new six figure deal will continue it for a further three years and was welcomed by Derek Keir, the CA’s chief executive.

“You don’t get by as a small governing body without the support of your sponsors. This will take our association with Marine Harvest up to 33 years. That consistent support allows you to plan ahead,” he said.

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He believes that will allow the sport to continue its development programmes while reclaiming its proper place in wider awareness.

“We see shinty as an iconic Scottish sport,” said Keir.

“The skill and technique required is understated and that’s something we need moving forward.

“Everything is heading in the right direction. Looking ahead to the next three to five years developing the women’s game alongside the men’s game is hugely important for us and we’re looking to continue the trends that are there. We have seen increased participation in the schools over the last few years which bodes well.

“With increased participation there are also challenges in the smaller communities so we need to support them to retain their members and identify opportunities to get new people involved when it’s required because some of the most rural places in Scotland are putting out one or two shinty teams. That’s a strength shinty has that a lot of other sports would like to have in being able to reach out into the communities we’re reaching.”

The announcement of the new deal came just a couple of days after Kinlochshiel Marine Harvest League Premier League, joining the Fort William side of 2006 to become only the second club to take that title away from Badenoch.

That the Badenoch teams remain a force had been demonstrated the previous week when Newtonmore, league champions of the previous seven seasons, retained the Camanachd Cup while, after a difficult few seasons, Kingussie showed signs of re-emerging as a force under the new management of Dallas ‘Wild Thing’ Young, finishing in the top half of the table.

Nor is the competition confined to the sport’s northern region with Tighnabruich’s Kyles Athletics having claimed two trophies in the course of the season, one of them the Macaulay Cup in which they beat Newtonmore 7-4 in an extraordinary final.

“Looking ahead to next year already, it’s going to be so competitive,” said Keir. “With Newtonmore in three cup finals this year and successful in two of them, they’ll be back strong along with a number of other teams. Kingussie have a lot of players coming through, Kinlochshiel will be looking to retain the title and Kyles will be contending too.

“There are teams coming into the league that are on a bit of a winning streak, so all way through the league teams will be gathering momentum and this year proves that there are other teams that are starting to gather momentum.”