KINGUSSIE look to be on course to come out on top in shinty’s Mowi Premiership for the first time in a decade after they defeated Wester Ross side Kinlochshiel 3-0 at the Dell.

The result means that Kings are now four points clear at the top of the table ahead of second-placed Lovat, who have only one game left to play and cannot overhaul them. Indeed, only Oban Camanachd and Kyles Athletic, who both have two games in hand over the front-runners, have a mathematical chance of stopping a Kingussie championship win. However, both still have tricky run-ins left ahead of them.

Elsewhere, Camanachd Cup winners Newtonmore’s 4-3 loss to Kyles Athletic – their second home defeat in a row – means their hopes of retaining their title for a second consecutive year are over. Kingussie’s young side must hold their nerve and pick up two points in their next fixture against Kilmallie and the job will be done.

Failing that, there is then the final game of the season away against Kyles to settle matters. Given Kyles recent form, that could prove a much trickier proposition.

For Kingussie manager John Gibson, the route ahead is clear: “We simply have to keep our focus. We are playing premier league shinty – all these teams are quality sides and have players that can hurt you and Kilmallie are no different. We need to keep performing at our best.

“Today I was happy that we kept a clean sheet and we played some nice shinty up front as well. However we have still to go out and do it.”

Kingussie certainly managed to do it on Saturday, though to be fair to Shiel – titles winners themselves in 2017 – they came into this match more than a little rusty not a having had a competitive match since early August.

Despite this, the visitors’ defence, marshalled by full-back Paul MacRae and with former international frontman Finlay MacRae at wing-back, kept the Kingussie attack at bay for most of the first half. They were let off in 35 minutes, however, when wing-forward Roddy Young had the ball in the net, only to have it ruled out for offside by referee Calum Girvan.

It was a big call by the Inverness-based referee, but in the end it was not to matter as five minutes before half-time, Kingussie got their noses in front following a tackle between Finlay MacRae and Young. It saw the ball break loose to winger James Falconer, who promptly fired it past Josh Grant.

Shiel could have levelled the tie shortly afterwards, but John MacRae’s fierce shot was superbly tipped over by Kings keeper Rory MacGregor.

The second half saw Shiel begin to tire and were it not for Josh Grant, who had a number of excellent saves throughout, the winning margin might well have been greater. Kingussie doubled their lead in 55 minutes following a Young run which saw him break through the Shiel backline and allow Fraser Munro to knock the ball low past Grant to make it 2-0.

Kingussie’s final goal came three minutes from time when a well-worked free hit by Savio Genini left half-forward Ruaraidh Anderson with space angle the ball home and seal the game.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Mid Argyll’s 3-1 surprise away win at Portree ensures promotion to the Premiership for the city side next season. Calum McLay, Craig Anderson and Mark Bain were on target for Mid-Argyll. Ross Mackinnon was the goalscorer for Skye.