Lochaber win MOWI National Division

Lochaber won the Mowi National Division, sealing the title with a late goal from who else but Ben Delaney as they were comeback kings with a 2-1 victory over local rivals Kilmallie at Canal Park. The red and white hoops had a good start to the season winning 2-0 against Inveraray, before picking up expected home victories against Col Glen and Oban Celtic, but they hit the first bump in the road at the start of April as they lost 4-3 to Glenurquhart who at the time had 4 points from 4 games; with hindsight it’s clear that Glenurquhart would kick on and become one of the form teams in the division, also earning promotion to the Mowi Premiership but at that point there were a few question marks over Lochaber’s credentials. However, they were soon proven to be exaggerated as an uncharacteristic defeat to Fort William would  be the only other major blot on the champion’s copybook as they romped to the title with a game to spare. Realistically, doing the league and cup double is as good a season as anyone at Lochaber could have dreamt of and so full credit has to go to Ally Feguson and his backroom staff as they picked up a team still reeling from relegation in 2019 and the effects of the COVID pandemic and moulded them into a solid unit. The signs were there towards the backend of last year as they were starting to click as a team and the fruits of their labour are now clear to see in 2023. It’s impossible to talk about Lochaber’s campaign without mentioning Ben Delaney and his incredible contribution, 17 goals in the league make him the 2nd top scorer in the division, but you can add another 12 to that tally across all competitions taking him to 29 and making him the 2nd highest scorer in all of senior shinty after a certain Craig Morrison. It is far from a one man show at Lochaber though with a high talent level across the whole squad including but not limited to the likes of Jack Dignan, Patrick Toal, Finlay McDonald, Conor Sweeney and of course the returning Max Campbell whose goals really helped drive Lochaber over the line. Lochaber are a side whose performances this campaign deserve rewarded and that’s exactly what they have got.

Manager Ally Ferguson:

“Winning the Balliemore cup and then the National league this season has been incredible, its great credit to the players , and the coaching team. The work effort and commitment they have all put in this season, has been amazing. A couple of seasons ago we reached a really low ebb, hopefully we have turned the tide now, and the hard work has evidently paid off, we will now look to enjoy and celebrate the success of this season. We will then look forward  to and plan to the next challenge ahead and step up being in the Premier league next season, which we will relish , with the understanding,  and knowledge that it is up a level again, and we are under no illusion on just how tough this can and will be. But we are there on merit and we look forward to it.”

President Bruno Berardelli:

‘This year has been incredible and will live long in the memory. Firstly, winning the Balliemore cup on home soil, and then to clinch the National Division One title with a last minute winner at Canal parks really gave our fans something to celebrate. This is testament to the work of our Manager, Ally Ferguson, coaches John Dino MacDonald and Angus Morrison, plus of course the hard work, commitment and skill of the players, ably led by Captain Pat Toal. The success of our Men’s First time this year has given the whole community a boost.’