The 70th annual junior inter-county kicks off tomorrow with Shetland’s talented young athletes looking to reclaim the Stuart Cup after two years of defeat.
But the Orkney team will be challenging to bring the overall scores from the competition’s 70 years of history level. Shetland has won 35 of the past events and Orkney 34.
At last year’s junior inter-county the blues suffered a second-day collapse which saw Orkney retain the trophy they had lifted in 2015. This was despite Shetland winning three of the five events.
Footballer and runner Shane Odie, one of Shetland’s two overall team captains, said that he hopes the home side can use this year’s home-field advantage to their favour.
Speaking about his athletics events, the 400 and 800 metres, Odie said that “support can make all the difference”.
He said: “When you’ve got a whole crowd supporting you, you forget everything. You don’t feel any pain or tiredness, you’re just motivated to win.”
Reflecting on his position as an overall team captain Odie spoke of the pride of being selected to represent the whole of Shetland.
“It’s a great feeling, I was very honoured when I got it,” he said, “It was a proud moment for me and for my family and it motivates you to train even harder.”
Last year in Kirkwall the athletics team sneaked a narrow victory of 49.5 points to 47.5. Odie said the team were “confident” of doing well enough this year to retain an advantage in the sport.
“The athletics team is looking strong and fit at the moment. We won for the first time in five years last year and hopefully we’ll be able to take the win from them again this weekend.”
He added: “But it all depends on if people get knocks. If everyone is fit and performing as they can on the day I feel we could do pretty well.”
Another event the overall Shetland team are confident of a victory in is swimming, following a comfortable win of 57.5-39 in Orkney last year.
Netball, one of second team captain Libby Fox’s sports, was another area of success for the Blues last year, edging to a 25-23 success.
However, the hockey and football teams will be looking to put memories of last year’s heavy defeats out of their mind and will attempt to capitalise on the local support likely to turn out to cheer them on.
After taking a 132-109.5 lead into the second day of events last year defeats of 10-0 in the hockey and 4-0 in the football gave Orkney an additional 70 points and an overall score of 132-179.5.
The junior inter-county kicks off tomorrow morning with athletics at 10.30am. This is followed by swimming at 4pm and netball at 6.45pm. All three events will take place at Clickimin.
Sunday begins with hockey at 10.45am, in Brae, and the competition culminates with football at the Gilbertson Park at 1.30pm.
Keep an eye on The Shetland Times website for updates and videos of the competition.
The athletics squad is: Leigh Nicolson, Emma Sandison, Lucy Holden, Seumas Mackay, Bobby Laurenson, Stuart Bain, Finn Rivett, Caitlin Ward, Alana Smith, Astri Balfour, Hannah Robertson, Kyle Leask, Dan Swanson, Shaun Ritchie, Sarah Marie Riise, Aimee Smith, Tamar Moncrieff, Mhia Mouat, Shane Odie (captain), Laura Newbold, Sophie Jamieson, Loni Wiseman, Dylan Black, Shay Regan, Lewis Barclay, Sophie Black, Lorna Wagstaff, Katie Dinwoodie and Sean Walterson.
Swimming: Tom Nicolson, Joe Carter, Brandon Pearson, Noah Quinell, Robbie Thomson, Harry Sandison, Kayla Manson, Lauren Sandison, Anne Hutchison, Luke Malcolmson, Emmie Hutchison, Adam Millar, Jasmin Smith, Katie Bain (co-captain), Mark Hutcheon (co-captain), Erraid Davies, Kaila Ratter, Lois Ross, Attie Black, Nina Price, Natasha Anderson and
Netball: Astri Balfour, Libby Fox (captain), Debbie Henry, Maria Irvine, Lianne Jamieson, Anja Kurtz, Tahnae Maclennan (vice-captain), Ami Maddison, Hannah Robertson, Emma Sandison, Ellie Spence and Natalie Stevens.
Hockey: Caitlin Ward, Cara Leask, Bethany Laurenson, Lianne Jamieson, Bethany Calderwood, Libby Fox (captain), Catherine Irvine (vice-captain), Hannah Robertson, Maria Irvine, Chloe Nicolson, Kayleigh Irvine, Chiara MacColl, Cally Thomson and Emma Sandison.
Football: Kieran Glaser, Kelvin Anderson, Kieran Fraser, Gregor Sinclair, Edward Oldbury (captain), Zevf Vessey, Connor Grant, Shane Odie, Stewart Walterson, Tom Martin, Ewan Inkster, Mattie Isbister, Robbie Sandison, Lenny Allan, Joe Niven and Lewis Harkness.