AFTER 15 months without competitive play, Aberdour Shinty Club made their return in the first game of a new-look 2021 league set-up on Saturday.

Lisa MacColl’s team, who were promoted to the sport’s second tier in 2019 for the first time, played one match in the National Division in March 2020 before coronavirus caused its cancellation.

They have been out of action since but, at Silver Sands, they took on Inveraray in the first of a 10-match league season.

A revised league structure has placed Aberdour in one of three ‘senior leagues’, League C, alongside Inveraray, Kyles Athletic, Oban Camanachd, Oban Celtic and Glasgow Mid Argyll.

Inveraray, who in 2019 were a top-flight side, proved too strong as they ran out 6-1 winners but MacColl wasn’t too downbeat.

“It was a bit like a pre-season for us because we’d only taken a very mixed first and seconds team to Tayforth (for a friendly) the week before,” she said.

“Even with half the team being second team, and some of them playing their first senior shinty, it was a 9-1 scoreline, so the guys probably hadn’t been tested as much.

“They went into this one – the majority who hadn’t been available to play at Tayforth – quite cold.

“It looked like we were playing our first game of the season, or our first of pre-season. We weren’t very sharp off the mark, we were reacting instead of maybe being proactive and reading situations, but that also goes with, maybe, 16 months of no shinty.

“They’ve got a very fast, fluid forward line and, regardless of how well practised you are, if you meet a forward line like that, it’s difficult for any defence, never mind our guys making that step up.

“This year is the year to experiment. They’re not far off teams like Inveraray, the difference is their sharpness and cohesion on the park.”

On Saturday, the firsts go to Oban Camanachd, while the seconds host Bute.