The town just loves it as shinty puts on a show­stop­per

Lo­vat end 62 year drought to lift cup

The Oban Times - - Front Page - STEVEN RAE srae@oban­

SHINTY fever was in the air on Satur­day as more than 3,000 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers de­scended on Oban’s Moss­field sta­dium for shinty’s show­piece oc­ca­sion - the Ca­manachd Cup fi­nal.

Kyles Ath­letic fans min­gled hap­pily with Lo­vat sup­port­ers as the teams bat­tled it out for the sport’s most- cov­eted prize.

Un­der­dogs Lo­vat even­tu­ally tri­umphed over the much-fan­cied Kyles 2-1 in a com­pelling, dra­matic en­counter.

The cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued late into the night, with the tri­umphant Kil­tar­l­ity side’s team bus mak­ing it back to the vil­lage just af­ter mid­night. There were a few sore heads on Sun­day morn­ing as Lo­vat fans cel­e­brated the team’s first cup win since 1953.

For a full match re­port and pic­ture spe­cial,

IT HAD all the mak­ings of a clas­sic - an epic north ver­sus south bat­tle for the ul­ti­mate prize in shinty.

Kyles Ath­letic, from Tighnabruich, went into the game 21time win­ners and were ap­pear­ing in their third Scot­tish Hy­dro Ca­manachd Cup fi­nal in four years.

In stark con­trast, Kil­tar­l­ity side, Lo­vat, were play­ing in only their third ever fi­nal in the com­pe­ti­tion.

In­deed, the last time Lo­vat played in the fi­nal, when they won in 1953, Queen El­iz­a­beth II had just be­come the monarch, and Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay be­came the first men to reach the sum­mit of the world’s high­est moun­tain.

On Satur­day, at Moss­field sta­dium in Oban, Lo­vat took the crown and scaled their Ever­est, be­com­ing Ca­manachd Cup cham­pi­ons for the sec­ond time, end­ing 62 years of an­guish.

By the ad­mis­sion of his man­ager, John MacRitchie, team­mates and op­po­si­tion play­ers, Lo­vat goal­keeper, Stu­art Mac­Don­ald, had the match of his life, throw­ing his stick and any part of his body nec­es­sary in front of the ball to keep Kyles at bay, in­clud­ing two out­stand­ing ac­ro­batic stops with his stick from high shots in the first half, as Kyles dom­i­nated.

Weath­er­ing the storm, Kevin Bartlett put Lo­vat in front in the first minute of added time in the first half, with what was the north­ern side’s only shot on tar­get the whole half, pun­ish­ing a sloppy mis­take by the Kyles de­fence.

Af­ter the break, Kyles wasted no time in get­ting back into the game, scor­ing four min­utes into the half when Rob­bie MacLeod man­aged to get the ball past Mac­Don­ald to make it 1-1 with a pow­er­ful shot into the top right-hand cor­ner of the net. Lo­vat re­sponded again with a per­fect sucker-punch though, as Bartlett pounced again af­ter another Kyles er­ror, crash­ing his drive home from 20 yards.

De­spite the on­slaught, and with MacRitchie’s blood pres­sure ris­ing with ev­ery Kyles at­tack, Mac­Don­ald and his de­fence fought to keep their lead.

As the fi­nal whis­tle blew, the team were en­gulfed by ec­static fans who rushed onto the pitch, some in floods of tears.

Dis­cussing keeper Mac­Don­ald’s per­for­mance, which earned him the Al­bert Smith medal for manof-the-match, MacRitchie said: ‘I don’t know if there’s any other keeper in the game just now who could have done what Stu­art did for us to­day.

‘With­out him, we wouldn’t have won the cup. He does it week-in­week-out and cer­tainly pro­duced it to­day for the big oc­ca­sion.

‘We couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter day.

‘The build-up was in­cred­i­ble. We had a few boys that were patched up with in­juries, but the oc­ca­sion got them through it.’

MacRitchie was happy to ad­mit his side had been the un­der­dogs, and paid trib­ute to Kyles’ con­duct through­out the day.

‘All the stats were in their favour, ex­cept one - goals scored. But de­spite be­ing ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed, Kyles were very pleased for us; in some ways it was like they’d won the cup.

‘I was so im­pressed with their class, they are a fan­tas­tic team on and off the pitch.

‘I’d say they are the best team in Scot­land just now and an ab­so­lute credit to the sport of shinty.’

We have scenes from Moss­field and a short in­ter­view with Lo­vat man­ager, John MacRitchie, on our web­site.

BLUE IS THE COLOUR: Kyles sup­port­ers get into the mood be­fore the start of the game

CUP JOY: Lo­vat cap­tain, Dan Grieve, bears the cup aloft and (right) the mo­ment of vic­tory

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