Seven in a row for ’More but Skye relegated to National Division
THERE were contrasting fortunes at the Eilan as Newtonmore celebrated their seventh successive title triumph whilst Skye Camanachd dropped down to the Marine Harvest National Division following the shinty action on Saturday October 29.
Marine Harvest Premiership Newtonmore 4 Skye Camanachd 1
Newtonmore celebrated a seventh successive title success following a 4-1 win over a spirited Skye Camanachd side, a result which means the islanders will play Marine Harvest National Division shinty next season.
With all of Newtonmore’s previous six title presentations taking place away from the Eilan, this was a rare chance for Paul John MacKintosh’s side to celebrate their league success with their home support.
After a year in shinty’s top flight, Skye knew their best hope of beating the drop was to win the game by two clear goals. That unlikely outcome would have relegated Lochaber. Indeed, any Skye win coupled with a heavy Kingussie loss at Tighnabruaich would also have saved John MacLeod’s side, but that seemed an even less likely outcome.
Newtonmore had Glen MacKintosh, Norman Campbell, Drew MacDonald, Iain Robinson and Jamie Robinson back after they missed the 2-2 draw with Kyles Athletic at the Eilan a fortnight earlier. The first four started on the bench, with Jamie Robinson taking up a place in the heart of the midfield. Liam Mullender was suspended.
Skye boss John MacLeod was without Danny Morrison who was on holiday, whilst Iain Nicolson was working. There were call-ups for brothers Ally ‘Spod’ MacLeod and Iain MacLeod and both started on the bench.
There was a chance for the home side when Evan Menzies pounced on a defensive slip in the opening minute, but he was unable to score.
Skye made a bright start to the game and, with their centre line winning the early midfield battle, they provided plenty balls for their forward line and they had a couple of chances to break the deadlock.
It was Newtonmore who took the lead on 18 minutes though when Evan Menzies controlled the ball around 20 yards from goal before turning and smashing a shoulder-high shot into the net to make it 1- 0.
Fraser MacKintosh added a second just five minutes later when he used all of his 6 foot 5 inch frame to stretch and take down a ball from the left at the edge of the ‘D’ and was allowed time to flick the ball home on his left side.
Although a Jamie Robinson shot from 40 yards out came back off the Skye crossbar on 27 minutes, Skye were always in the game and pulled a goal back on 36 minutes. Jordan Murchison turned to get past Andy MacKintosh near the corner flag on the Skye left. It seemed too tight an angle to score but Murchison sent a rasping shot high into the net from a ridiculous angle.
Skye pressed to level the game but were restricted to shots from distance so Newtonmore took their 2-1 lead into the break. The home side could have been further ahead had it not been for some amazing saves from Skye goalie Jamie Gannon.
’More flexed their muscles at the interval with Glen MacKintosh, Norman Campbell and Drew MacDonald coming on in place of Conor Jones, Jamie Robinson and David Fraser. MacKintosh went to full forward with Evan Menzies moving onto the wing.
Skye suffered an injury blow soon after the re-start when Kenny Campbell took a blow to the face following a tussle with Andy MacKintosh. As Campbell was being treated pitchside, with Iain Murray on in his place, Newtonmore extended their lead. Fraser MacKintosh stopped the ball in space following a corner from the left and made it 3-1 with a powerful drive from 15 yards.
Evan Menzies’ first-half strike meant both he and Glen MacKintosh were on 24 goals apiece for the season.
Between them, the ’More duo have notched a combined goals haul which exceeds the overall efforts of all other clubs other than Kyles Athletic. Both had chances during the remainder of the game to finish outright top scorer for the senior team.
Menzies came close on 52 minutes when he hit a cross from Fraser MacKintosh off the face of the post.
Skye made a second change after an hour with Ally ‘Spod’ MacLeod introduced in place of Ally ‘Cleodi’ MacLeod and the substitute had a chance to score but was unable to connect.
Skye had long-range efforts from Jordan Murchison and Will Cowie saved comfortably by ’More keeper Owen Fraser.
Skye’s final switch saw Iain MacLeod take over from the tiring Chris MacLennan with 20 minutes remaining. James Pringle was brought back to wing centre with MacLeod filling in up front.
As the match moved into the final 10 minutes, Glen MacKintosh struck the post after getting onto a Chris Sellar ball.
Evan Menzies then unselfishly set up his strike partner Glen MacKintosh, but the ball wouldn’t sit for him and the chance was gone. Menzies then gathered a ball at pace inside the ‘D’ but seemed to hesitate, thinking he was offside.
Fraser MacKintosh completed his hat-trick seven minutes from time when he took an Evan Menzies cross into the ‘D’ before slipping the ball past the keeper from around eight yards to make it 4-1.
Fraser MacKintosh made a big contribution to the Newtonmore cause whilst the excellent Rory Kennedy, who started at buckshee back but then spent most of the match at full back, was a top performer in defence.
Ally MacDonald had a fine game in defence for Skye with Gilleasbuig MacDonald and Will Cowie also catching the eye.
The defeat consigns Skye to shinty’s second tier next season. They have just fallen short in a tight mid- division where only three points separate fifth -placed Kingussie and Skye in ninth spot.
Skye will lick their wounds and aim to come back stronger for the experience.
It was a particularly special occasion for Andy MacKintosh, Jamie Robinson, Paul MacArthur, Norman Campbell, Steven MacDonald and Glen MacKintosh as they have been involved in all seven Newtonmore title successes. Whether all six players will be in the ’More playing squad that goes for eight-in-a-row next season remains to be seen.
With Camanachd Association president Jim Barr and chief operating officer Torquil MacLeod present, Steve Bracken from sponsors Marine Harvest, who are about to enter their 30th year backing shinty, presented the Marine Harvest Premiership trophy to Newtonmore captain Steven MacDonald.
Newtonmore have completed their league programme unbeaten only dropping points in two draws with second-placed Kyles Athletic. Newtonmore add the Marine Harvest Premiership trophy to the Camanachd Cup and RBS MacTavish won earlier in the season. The Artemis Macaulay Cup was the one that got away. Their reserve team brought home the Marine Harvest North Division 1 title and the Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup; all in all earning Newtonmore an undisputed 2016 Marine Harvest Club of the Year award.
Kyles Athletic 0 Kingussie 0
Kyles Athletic and Kingussie shared the points in a 0- 0 draw at Tighnabruaich.
Kyles Athletic were without Callum Miller, Donald Irvine, Dunkie Kerr and long-term injury victim Grant Irvine.
Kingussie welcomed Ryan Borthwick back into their side for the first time since May and he started at buckshee back. Roddy Young kept his place in the side and started up front. Fellow 16-year- olds Ruaridh Anderson and Alexander Michie were on the bench.
This was a good encounter given the difficult underfoot conditions which made for a wet, heavy and slippery pitch.
It was a decent day overhead though and both teams put on a good show without being able to break the deadlock. Keepers John Whyte and Craig Dawson both made a number of good saves with Whyte perhaps just the busier of the two.
The draw confirms Kyles Athletic’s status as top division runners up whilst Kingussie climb to finish fifth in the league. This was also a last game in charge at Kingussie for co-managers Russell Jones and Davie Anderson.
The highpoint of their tenure came in 2014 when they beat Glenurquhart 4- 0 to lift the Camanachd Cup.
They now feel the team should be doing better than it has over the last couple of years so the time is right for someone else to come in and take things forward. Their replacement will decided at the club’s annual general meeting at the end of November.
Marine Harvest South Division 1 Taynuilt 1 Inveraray 2
The Inveraray second team came from a goal down to beat Taynuilt 2-1 at Taynuilt Sports Field.
Mark Bergant gave Taynuilt the lead with the only goal of the first half on 12 minutes.
Inveraray drew level shortly after the restart when Niall Shaw scored.
The winning goal came on the hour mark when David Robertson netted to give the visitors a 2-1 win.
Marine Harvest North Division 2 Kilmallie W/O v Boleskine
The Kilmallie second team were given a walk- over when Boleskine were unable to raise a team for their meeting at Canal Parks.
The Kilmallie colts still have matches remaining and are scheduled to meet Strathspey Camanachd at Canal Parks this coming weekend and the Lochaber seconds at Spean Bridge a week later.
London Shield semi final Beauly U-17 0 Oban Camanachd U-17 4
FOUR second-half goals from Oban Camanachd U-17 hotshot Daniel MacVicar sent his side into the London Shield final as they defeated Beauly U17 4- 0 at Canal Parks.
Oban Camanachd enjoyed most of the first half pressure but some good defending from Beauly meant it was scoreless at the turnaround.
Oban Camanachd got the goal they deserved on 50 minutes with Daniel MacVicar on target.
When MacVicar got his second on the hour mark, Beauly’s frustration showed and Lee Dunbar was red carded by referee Ronnie Campbell with others fortunate not to join him on the sidelines.
Daniel MacVicar went on to take his personal tally to four goals with efforts on 73 and 75 minutes to give his side an unassailable 4- 0 win.
Oban Camanachd will now play Skye Camanachd in what is sure to be a cracking London Shield Final this Saturday, November 5.
At the time of going to press, the final was scheduled for the Eilan, Newtonmore, with a 1.30pm throw-up.
Newtonmore won their seventh championship in a row this year and pictured are the six players who have picked up all seven winners’ medals. Back: Andy MacKintosh, Jamie Robinson and Paul MacArthur. Front: Norman Campbell, Steven MacDonald and Glen MacKintosh.
Newtonmore captain Steven Macdonald receives the Marine Harvest Trophy from Steve Bracken, Marine Harvest support manager.