SHETLAND’S young crop of sporting talent had built up a 35-point lead in the battle for the junior inter county’s Stuart Cup as we went to press yesterday afternoon.
With just the relay events still to take place in the rain-soaked athletics programme, Shetland were 85-55 ahead, having already built up a five-point lead following the previous day’s events, which saw Orkney triumph 4-1 at hockey before Shetland’s footballers hit back with a 5-1 victory.
Wet weather meant the high jump event had to be staged indoors at Clickimin yesterday but the torrential downpour did not stop Joshua Morrison from smashing the 1500m record by a remarkable 13 seconds; he also shaved a second off the 800m record.
The action began on Wednesday afternoon in Brae, with Shetland’s hockey girls facing a daunting task against an Orkney team which had won 6-0 on each of the past two occasions. Indeed it was four years since Shetland last registered a goal, such has been the strength of the opposition.
Things looked ominous again as Orkney took an early lead, but the home players are gaining in experience on the artificial surface and the supporters went wild when Rhiannon Inkster equalised following a short corner.
Orkney went ahead again but as half time arrived with only one goal in it the Shetland players were still full of hope.
In the second half Orkney made it 3-1 but chances were still being created by the blues as they tried to pull things back once more.
Right at the end of the match the visitors made it 4-1 after a short corner but in reality the three-goal deficit was hardly fair on the Shetland players who put in a much-improved performance on recent years.
Coach Kerri Moulder was full of praise for the efforts of her squad.
“The lasses worked extremely hard and the fourth goal was not deserved,” she said. “Three-one we would have taken but it was very disappointing to lose another one in the dying seconds.
“The players have improved greatly with their work rate and their determination. They had four or five chances during the match and I’m really proud of them.
“We’re seeing more consistency now and I believe another [artificial] pitch would be very important to help in taking that forward.
“I was glad to see [MSP] Tavish Scott at the game and he says he is being being lobbied right, left and centre. So maybe there’s hope that the future could be bright. The players certainly deserve it.”
Back at Lerwick in the evening, the Shetland football team wiped out the overall lead by winning 5-1 before a large crowd at Gilbertson Park.
Shetland were 2-0 ahead at half time with goals by Danny Finnie and Shane Jamieson, but by all accounts the lead could have been greater.
Thorfinn Stout pulled one back for Orkney in the second half but two headers from Tomas Smith and a final effort from Ross Irvine further emphasised Shetland’s superiority.
Coach Derrick Bradley said yesterday he believed the future of the local game was very bright.
“I thought we set our stall out well,” he said. “We went out and played a good passing game. I’m really pleased with all the players.
We were a little bit lackadaisical for their goal but we created lots of chances ourselves. We never let Orkney really play.
“It was a good team performance, especially as it was the first time the first 11 have really played together. We couldn’t get everybody together as a team.
“Things are looking very good. There’s a wealth of really good young players and the future is rosy for Shetland football.”
Bradley added that he would like to thank J. W. Gray for providing tops for the players at the last minute.”