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The Mòd Cup is a unique trophy in shinty history

Peter Mobeck of Kyles with the Mod Cup 1994
Peter Mobeck of Kyles with the Mòd Cup 1994

The Mòd Cup is a unique trophy in shinty history. First presented in 1969 by the Aviemore Branch of An Comunn Gàidhealach for the Mòd held in that fast growing tourist town, how apt that it was christened by a match between the two giants Newtonmore and Kingussie. Newtonmore added it to their haul of the Camanachd, Mactavish and MacGillvray that season, denied a grand slam by Kingussie’s MacAulay Cup victory. It remains the one trophy that the great Kings of the Dell have never won, perhaps An Comunn’s venue scheduling might allow them another shot in the coming years!

A quick look at the winners list sees two things, that certain teams dominate the history of the competition due to their proximity to certain venues – Oban and Dunoon in particular has given Oban Camanachd and Kyles Athletic the opportunity regularly to lift the cup. Tayforth being historically the dominant side in the South East has seen them win the trophy four times. A win in this Saturday’s game in Perth against Aberdour would send Tayforth clear of Oban, Kyles and Skye.

The Mòd does have penchant for taking the festival to farflung outposts such as Airdrie (Inveraray winners in 1993) and in the past, teams have often been imported and Glenurquhart won the trophy in Brora in 1977, Glenorchy in Bishopbriggs in 1988 and Skye won the trophy in 1989 in Stornoway long before there was a Camanachd Leòdhais.

Glenurquhart v Beauly, at Brora 1977

Yet the list of winners is one peppered with some names which shows the spread of shinty, but also that this beautiful and unique senior trophy gives a rare chance of glory to players who would never reach the heights – Livingston in 1987 (Stirling Mòd), Uist Camanachd in 2005, Caithness in 2010 and the West Lochaber select in 2007 (played in Ardnamurchan). Perhaps the most special one, managed by the late Alasdair “Ally Mor” Morrison, was Kyleakin Primary School lifting the trophy in 2001 against Back Camanachd in Tarbert, Isle of Harris.

Of course, being the modern era, there is also now the Learn Gaelic Challenge Cup for the women’s code – first played for in 2018 – this is a 12 a-side fixture – and it has a special history, a repurposed cup from a men’s rugby match between Canada and Glasgow Warriors – and will be also contested by Tayforth and Aberdour on the North Inch – the first 12 a-side women’s fixture at a venue that saw several Camanachd Cup Finals in the early 20th century.

Learn Gaelic Challenge Cup
Learn Gaelic Challenge Cup

Why does the Mòd Cup matter, other than the odd fact it is considered a “senior trophy”, perhaps due to its illustrious beginnings in Badenoch? Shinty is indeed the “Game of the Gael”, but despite what the catchy song says, it is not the “Language of our Clans” – that is still Gaelic, despite the loss of the language from many of the communities where it was just over a hundred years ago still the language of the people. The language in our mouths together with the caman in our hands at the turning of the year was as natural as breathing or the turning of the seasons for over two thousand years. Yet clearance, war and economics have taken a heavy toll on our land and people with different symptoms appearing, in some areas shinty died out, and in some it was Gaelic that withered away to nothing.

One area somehow managed to retained both, despite the surge of history – Skye Camanachd has always been an important focus for the Gaelic speaking community in Skye – and still at least half the Skye team on Saturday in their thrilling victory over Beauly in the National Division were Gaelic speakers, but also there was a handful of players in the Beauly squad who also speak the language. This is the result of Gaelic medium education taking hold across the country and one that provides an opportunity for the language.

Mod Cup Winners Skye 2016
Mod Cup Winners Skye 2016

A great deal of the growth in shinty in the Central Belt has been driven by Gaelic medium education – the challenge for both sport and language is to ensure that as many of these young people become productive players and speakers into adulthood. Initiatives such as Iomain Cholmcille, Cupa Iomain na h-Oige and the Camanachd Association’s commitment to employing a Gaelic speaking officer are all opportunities to give Gaelic a living, breathing space within its own sport, and connect the two again out with the confines of school and government.

Last year’s Mòd Cups were great spectacles at the Bught Park, in particular the men’s game with Inverness overcoming Strathglass on penalties in front of a large crowd on that famous pitch. The Mòd Cups matter because the twin trophies provide a little silverware to cheer in the autumn twilight, and a reminder that Gaelic and shinty are valuable assets which can strengthen each other greatly.

Eoghan Stewart

The Mòd Cup winners 2021 Inverness

Women’s Mòd Cup Winners

  • 2021 Inverness bt Alba
  • 2019, GMA bt Bute
  • 2018, Oban Lorn

Men’s Mòd Cup Winners

  • 2021 Inverness 2 v Strathglass 2, Inverness win on penalties, Inverness
  • 2020 No Competition due to Mòd Postponement
  • 2019 GMA 0 v Bute 0, GMA win on penalties 3–1, Glasgow Green, Glasgow
  • 2018 Inveraray bt Col-Glen, Dunoon
  • 2017 Kilmallie 3 v 2 Fort William, at An Aird, Fort William (played in 2018)
  • 2016 Skye Camanachd 3 v 0 Lewis Camanachd, at Shawbost, Isle of Lewis
  • 2015 Oban Camanachd bt Glenurquhart, at Mossfield Stadium, Oban
  • 2014 Boleskine 4 v 2 Inverness, at Bught Park, Inverness
  • 2013 Bute 1 v 1 Glasgow Mid Argyll, Bute won after penalty shoot-out, at Thornly Park Campus, Paisley
  • 2012 Kyles Athletic 9 v 1 Bute, at Dunoon
  • 2011 Lewis Camanachd 2 v 0 Uist Camanachd, at Uist
  • 2010 Caithness Shinty Club 3 v 1 Sutherland, at Wick
  • 2009 Lochside Rovers bt Oban Celtic, at Mossfield, Oban
  • 2008 Match between Aberdour and Glasgow Mid-Argyll abandoned due to weather, at Grangemouth
  • 2007 West Lochaber bt East Lochaber, at Ardnamurchan
  • 2006 Strachur & District bt Col-Glen
  • 2005 Uist Camanachd 3 v 0 Lewis Camanachd, at Lionacleit
  • 2004 Tayforth bt Edinburgh East Lothian, at South Inch, Perth
  • 2003 Oban Camanachd bt Oban Celtic
  • 2002 Kyles Athletic 1 v 0 Bute, at Largs
  • 2001 Kyleakin Primary School 11 v 0 Back Camanachd, at Tarbert, Harris
  • 2000 Kyles Athletic
  • 1999 Fort William
  • 1998 Skye Camanachd
  • 1997 Strathglass
  • 1996 Tayforth bt Strathclyde Police
  • 1995 Caberfeidh
  • 1994 Kyles Athletic bt Strachur 4-0 (not recorded on trophy)
  • 1993 Inveraray bt GMA 7–1, at Airdrie
  • 1992 Oban Camanachd bt Oban Celtic 5–0, at Oban
  • 1991 Caberfeidh
  • 1990, No Competition
  • 1989, Skye Camanachd 4 v 2 Beauly, at Bayhead, Stornoway
  • 1988, Glenorchy bt Strachur, at Bishopbriggs
  • 1987, Livingston bt Glasgow University
  • 1986, Tayforth, at Peffermill
  • 1985, Glengarry
  • 1984, Inverness bt Boleskine
  • 1983, Glasgow Mid-Argyll bt Strathclyde Police
  • 1982, Skye Camanachd, at King George V Playing Field, Skye
  • 1981, Lochaber won a tournament involving Invergarry, Fort William and Kilmallie
  • 1980, Tayforth bt Livingston
  • 1979, Lochcarron 5 v 3 Skye Camanachd
  • 1978, Oban Celtic bt Oban Camanachd
  • 1977, Glenurquhart 3 v 0 Beauly, at Brora, Sutherland
  • 1976, Aberdeen Camanachd bt Aberdeen University
  • 1975, Glasgow Mid-Argyll bt Kyles Athletic
  • 1974, Aberdeen Camanachd bt Tayforth
  • 1973, No Competition, game scheduled but no teams elected to play
  • 1972, Lovat bt Inverness at Bught Park
  • 1971, Glasgow Mid-Argyll (GMA)
  • 1970, Oban Celtic bt Oban Camanachd, at Oban
  • 1969, Newtonmore 5 v 2 Kingussie, at Aviemore

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