Shinty’s new season opened on Saturday with last year’s Camanachd Cup finalists Lovat chalking up the Premiership result of the day with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Kinlochshiel. The only other result in the top league – now known as the Mowi Premier League after a midwinter rebranding exercise by sponsors Marine Harvest – saw reigning champions Newtonmore lose 2-0 at home to newly promoted Kilmallie. Elsewhere poor weather played havoc with the opening day’s fixtures with the remaining Premier League matches called off and only two games in the lower National Division being completed.

The torrential rain which more or less closed down the bulk of the afternoon’s shinty had little effect on Lovat frontman Marc MacLachlan who hit four of his side’s five goal total against visitor’s Shiel. His first strike came midway through the first half after a spell of sustained pressure had seen ‘Shiel’s goalkeeper Stuart Macrae make a nice stop from Lovat’s Fraser Heath. Macrae, a recent signing from Loch Ness-side club Boleskine, is new to the Premiership however and his under-struck by-hit was pounced on by MacLachlan who exchanged passes with fellow forward Greg Matheson and slipped the ball home from a tight angle to open the scoring.

Lovat’s next goal came in 27 minutes when a low ball forward by Matheson popped up in the air off Shiel fullback Paul Macrae prompting MacLachlan to improvise an overhead strike which put his side two up. From that point on Shiel rallied somewhat but despite picking up a bit of forward momentum they found the Lovat rear-guard-particularly the excellent Daniel Grieve at fullback – too tough to break down.

Shiel’s defensive frailties again came back to haunt them just before the break when a low Matheson strike from distance was saved by Macrae with his feet only for MacLachlan to claim his hat-trick when he touched home the rebound from inside the “D” .

After that there was no way back for ‘Shiel ; they looked a dejected outfit and with Fraser Heath moving to half-back late in the second period the Lovat grip on the game was complete.

A fourth Lovat goal came in 65 minutes after Shiel defender Mark Macdonald failed to deal with a long ball forward from Heath allowing winger Thomas Fraser to find Matheson with a crossfield ball which he fired home from a tight angle.

An alert Maclachlan then brought his side’s total to five in the 82nd minute when he dispossessed Shiel fullback Paul Macrae inside the “D” and fired home to make it an afternoon Shiel manager Johnstone Gill and his players will want to forget.

For Lovat manager Fraser Gallacher the result was one to savour. “To be honest, we struggled against ‘Shiel last season and it’s good to turn that round. It is far too early to be getting above ourselves but we certainly looked good and were strong in all departments, so we can congratulate ourselves that we have made a solid start to the season.”

In the only other Premiership game to go ahead, newly promoted Kilmallie shocked the reigning champions by winning 2-0 away at Newtonmore. The result was not complexly a surprise however given that Kilmallie had taken the champions all the way in last season’s Camanachd Cup semi-final only losing out on penalties in the end. New manager John Stewart has worked hard with his group of players in the close season and the former Scotland international was rewarded by two excellent first half-goals courtesy of Daniel Stewart and Liam Cameron which were enough to see them safely over the line to victory.