The Mowi WCA National continues this weekend with the Mowi Game of the Week bringing together Glenurquhart and Lochaber. To preview the game we caught up with Glenurquhart’s Ishbel Barr.

Ishbel, shinty is back! How does it feel to be back out on the pitch?

It’s a relief to be back to be honest! As much as I enjoy the off season, getting back into the swing of routine and having the focus of games has always been something I’ve relished.

The start of the season can feel a little daunting- those first couple of games really let you (as well as your teammates and spectators)know  just how much you might have enjoyed the off season! But there isn’t a better motivator.

It was a tough opener for Glenurquhart as you took on the champions, Badenoch. What positives did you take from the weekend?

 We always knew it would be tough facing Badenoch, we were short a coupe of key players and there were a few fitness questions asked right enough. We had a game plan, and when we stick to it it worked- there was a daft dip after half time that did some damage to the scoreline but it was good to see that when we were a focused unit we were strong competitors.

As well as that there were  some individual performances which were inspiring- including Hazel at  the  opposite end of her status quo  in goals, Yvonne stepping up and showing the true grit of a captain, Kirsty Smith keeping Kirsty Deans about as quiet as anyone can, and Ruby and Rowan demonstrating clearly what they bring to to the squad.

This week you face last year’s runners up Lochaber in another tricky match, having played them twice last year, what do you make of them?

Lochaber are strong across the park, we know we will be in for a game which is going to test our strength and resolution. There are murmurs throughout women’s shinty that they are going to build on last year’s very impressive form and I can’t say I disagree. With Mairi Duncan and Missy both looking as good as I’ve seen them. They picked up a win against Badenoch at the start of last year, so I am sure they are looking kick off this season just as strongly especially after managing to stop the goal hungry Sheil from getting any in the net last week.

It was a solid 2023 campaign, finishing comfortably in mid table after promotion. What are the team’s goals for this year, can you look higher up the table or will you be looking for another consolidation season?

Last year our main aim from the outset was sustaining two teams- and everything else was a bonus. As the year continued we were delighted to find ourselves to be worthy contenders in multiple matches. If you look at stats though it’s often that teams after promotion manage to give a good effort in their first season up and the real test comes thereafter where resilience and dedication is tested more.

So after working through the logistics of fixtures, showers and match balls we would once again be delighted to end this year clear from the bottom of the table and with three teams of enthusiastic players between u14, north 2 and National.

On a personal note, it’s not uncommon in shinty, but what is it like to be managed by your Dad?

Ah, yes having Dad/Jim/Jimbo as manager can be interesting.

I’m lucky though – I’ve had a lifetime to get used to his ways –  for some of the rest of the squad they are getting to know him as we go!

Nonetheless, when I’m having an off game/ making poor decisions on the pitch – I certainly know about it. As you say however,  it’s not uncommon in women’s shinty – so when I’m on the pitch and near someone else whose dad is shouting “second wind”, “work hard” or “dig deep” we definitely share an understanding.