More the merrier after
Shinty: MacDonald is man of moment with crucial performance
Only 12 weeks after breaking his leg, Newtonmore’s Drew MacDonald stepped up with his 11-week-old daughter Aela to collect the Albert Smith Memorial Medal for man of the match in the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final – proving that he is no longer the club’s “Mr Unlucky”.
The 25-year-old appliance engineer helped Newtonmore to a 3-2 victory against Lovat at Inverness to take home the trophy for the 32nd time.
MacDonald said: “I’ve come on as substitute in two Camanachd finals but this was my first start and after my leg break I didn’t think in my wildest dreams that I’d play, let alone get the man of the match medal.
“Before that I was out for two years with a cruciate ligament injury and before that I broke my hand in a match. I seemed jinxed but now all my luck has come at once.
“I played 20 minutes for the team last week, but I thought I’d be on the bench again. To start, and win, is fantastic.”
MacDonald’s dynamism at Bught Park was typical of the Newtonmore drive and energy which in the end proved too much for the Kiltarlity men who will be very disappointed with their performance.
When they came back to make it 2-2 with 24 minutes remaining, a Lovat cup-winning surge was on the cards, but it was the Badenoch men who found an extra gear. Their winning goal came from Evan Menzies, who missed the first half of the season with a house renovation project, but who found space 12 yards out to fire the ball home.
Winning manager Paul John Mackintosh said: “Everything was against us in the run up, but we stood up to be counted.
“Norman Campbell did a great job playing in defence while all credit to Paul Macarthur as standin goalkeeper. Rory Kennedy hadn’t played for eight weeks but totally subdued the man he was marking.
“I’m proud of our team with everyone playing their part.”
Lovat coach Fraser Gallacher said: “It was there for us to win when got level but credit to Newtonmore for rallying to get a win they deserved. It’s tough to take, we just didn’t do the basic things right.”
The clean hitting of More was in stark contrast to Lovat’s often clumsy striking. As a result, the Lovat midfield was overrun in the first half, though the team found some form after the interval.
Had a David Maclean goal, which would have made it 3-0, not been disallowed the Eilan side could have gone on to win emphatically.
They were two up inside 20 minutes, the first an angled drive from Neil Stewart and the second came from Jamie Robinson, who lashed high into the net.
Lovat were back in the game in 64 minutes when substitute Marc MacLachlan steered the ball home from close range after Daniel Grieve’s long ball had caused defensive confusion. Two minutes later they were level when Lorne MacKay’s high shot from distance was missed in the sunlight by keeper Macarthur.
After Menzies’ winner, tempers flared. Conor Jones had just come on as sub when Callum Cruden’s stick made contact with his head. Jones had to be hauled back by team-mates as he sought to confront his assailant. Referee Lachie Wood showed red cards to both players.
There had not been two players sent off in a Camanachd final for more than 40 years.
Yet a difficult season for Newtonmore ended in glory. For the first time in 31 years, they have retained the sport’s Blue Riband trophy.
You have to go back 38 years for the last time they won it three times in a row but that’s the next target for this outstanding team. The relegation issue in the Marine Harvest Premiership may not now be settled until November 4.
Kilmallie’s game with Oban Camanachd was postponed as Canal Park was unplayable and the fixture now reverts to its original date which is a setback to both clubs.
Oban manager Ian Hay said: “We’re hugely disappointed at playing past Halloween and just before bonfire night. I can’t remember us playing in November before.
“But there’s no scope for us fitting in another date as we play Kingussie, Lovat and Newtonmore this month plus a free weekend for the shinty-hurling international.
“It’s hard luck on our players having to keep training while half the Premiership teams finish their season this coming weekend.
“And, of course, with Kilmallie sitting second bottom, it’s a vital fixture to them.”
Hay flies off on holiday this week and misses Oban’s home game with Kinlochshiel, who need a point to win the championship for the first time.
“I thought we’d be finished by now,” said Hay, “but Chris Eccleston and Fraser Inglis will take charge.”
Kingussie are the new MacMaster Under14s Cup holders after beating Lochaber 6-4 in a thriller at Bught Park.
Ewan Baker and Michael Slimon hit doubles for Kings, with Ally Douglas and Ian Lynch also on target. Max Campbell netted twice for Lochaber who also counted through Dillon Brockie and Robbie Rydings.