Shetland regained the trophy in June last year when a tremendous second day of competition overturned Orkney’s 26-point overall lead.
Orkney had won both the athletics and netball events while the football match was drawn, putting them 147-121 ahead after the first day of competition.
However, the gap was pulled back to six points after a sensational 4-0 win by the hockey team, and the swimmers also won convincingly to put Shetland 12 points ahead overall.
This year the Shetland competitors are ready for a tough battle, and certainly not taking anything for granted especially with Orkney at home.
Junior inter-county association honorary president Rhoda Polson, who has been involved with the team since the 1970s, said she expected a really good weekend of action, but would not be predicting the outcome.
She said: “I never like to say one way or another, but they have certainly put in the training time. I never like to say point blank. It all happens on the day.
“The coaches are quite happy with their teams, that I can say. They have put in the practise.”
She said she didn’t think the home advantage would be as big a factor as some folk might think.
“Both counties just put in the same effort wherever they are, and they really do their bit to help their team mates. One squad supports the other and wherever you go to that’s the case. [For instance] the footballers really cheer on the netball and hockey players and that’s the way it works.
“I’m hoping the weather is better than what is here tonight. It will be a good weekend of sport. Both teams will fight hard. I definitely know that.”
The action in Kirkwall begins on Saturday with the netball match at 10.30am, followed by the swimming races at 2.30pm and the hockey match at 4.30pm.
Sunday sees the culmination of the events with the athletics taking place from 10.30am and the football match kicking off at 4pm.
• Full story, including the individual squad members, in The Shetland Times on Friday.