Ca­manachd Cup stays in New­ton­more

Sunday Herald - - SPORT - BY KEVIN FERRIE

THEY set out with this sea­son’s goal­keeper Nor­man Camp­bell back in his for­mer role at the heart of their de­fence, mid­fielder Paul MacArthur play­ing only his sec­ond game in goal and skip­per Rory Kennedy play­ing his first match in two months – but noth­ing could pre­vent New­ton­more from re­tain­ing the Ca­manachd Cup at Bught Park in In­ver­ness.

A sea­son that has seen them re­lin­quish the Premier­ship ti­tle for the first time in eight years has re­sulted in ques­tions be­ing raised about whether some of their play­ers are now past their best.

That, though, only added to the pride felt by man­ager PJ MacK­in­tosh, af­ter watch­ing his patched-up side ex­tend their record haul of wins in their sport’s most pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion to 32, bat­tling their way to a 3-2 vic­tory over Lo­vat.

“It’s been a sea­son of ad­ver­sity with prob­lems all over and the player avail­abil­ity at the start of the sea­son cost us the league, there’s no doubt about that. But we were happy we made all the cup fi­nals, so I’m de­lighted,” he said.

“Noth­ing went right for us. It was a strug­gle. We had to jug­gle the team around and change things about, but it’s only in ad­ver­sity you see the boys re­ally show their true colours. When peo­ple are knock­ing you down and you get back up it’s sweet.”

All the more so be­cause of the way the match swung both ways, and the fierce con­test ended with both teams re­duced to 11 men.

Cal­lum Cru­den at least partly lived up to his name when, late on, a wild flail saw his ca­man col­lide with the face of New­ton­more sub­sti­tute Conor Jones who, on re­cov­er­ing, also saw red in ev­ery sense – Jones was dis­missed for be­lated re­tal­i­a­tion.

The more ed­i­fy­ing drama had hap­pened ear­lier in the half. Af­ter con­ced­ing two goals inside a minute to Neil Ste­wart and Jamie Robin­son a quar­ter of an hour in, Lo­vat re­sponded in near iden­ti­cal fash­ion mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod.

Sub­sti­tute Mark MacLach­lan nudged home the goal that got them back into the game, and Lorne MacKay then reg­is­tered a freak­ish equaliser, MacArthur clearly in­con­ve­nienced by the sun as the wind-as­sisted strike from 50 yards out eluded him.

New­ton­more re­gained the up­per hand in the clos­ing stages, how­ever, with Glen Mack­in­tosh tee­ing up their win­ner for Evan Men­zies 14 min­utes from the end.

It left their man­ager pay­ing trib­ute to those who had re­sponded to the side’s per­son­nel cri­sis, while ex­cus­ing his stand-in goal­keeper for his soli­tary er­ror.

“At the end of the day you can’t hide class and Nor­man Camp­bell as a de­fender is first class. His head’s still quicker than most. His legs are not quite there, but I thought he was ex­cel­lent,” said MacK­in­tosh.

“I thought Rory Kennedy com­ing back af­ter eight weeks out was just out of this world and I don’t think Paul could be blamed for the goal. The ball came in high and he put his hand up and it would have been very dif­fi­cult for the best of goal­keep­ers to deal with.

“He of­fered to go in for a cou­ple of games and that’s him fin­ished with the goals now.

“He’s made it quite clear he doesn’t want to be a goal­keeper so we’ll think again next week, but at the end of the day the cup’s in the cup­board.”

„ Evan Men­zies, cen­tre, cel­e­brates with Glen MacK­in­tosh, right

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