Kinlochshiel capped their greatest ever season with victory over Kingussie to seal the cottages.com MacTavish Cup after a thrilling final in Inverness
Saturday’s meeting of the two sides with senior national trophies to their name in 2021 carried the air of a unified title fight between two prized fighters – each with a claim on the undisputed champion’s crown.
And together the two sporting heavyweights – the current Camanachd Cup and Premier league holders – delivered an absorbing contest that went the full distance before the Badenoch side were eventually floored in extra time.
The knock-out punch was delivered by a 16-year-old, as Archie ‘Ach’ MacRae’s brilliant solo effort for Shiel’s third clinched victory and an historic cup double.
Kingussie had struck first on 10 minutes when Ruaridh Anderson scampered clear on the right and lashed home after being picked out by a perfect pass from Dylan Borthwick.
Shiel were on the ropes but hauled themselves level on the half hour mark through an excellent low Jordan Fraser strike after good work from Keith MacRae.
The two teams traded blows incessantly thereafter – but it took an added half hour before they were eventually separated.
Ten minutes into extra time Donald Nixon’s hit-in from the right found John MacRae, and the big Shiel striker took a touch to control before crashing the ball high into the roof of the net beyond a helpless Bob MacGregor in the Kingussie goal.
A minute later and MacRae outfoxed Kings captain Rory MacEachean with an outrageous piece of skill on the right wing, before drilling in from a tight angle to spark the celebrations.
It was a goal fit to win any cup final, but Kingussie were not going to accept defeat from lying on the canvas.
Back they came again, and Ryan Borthwick forced home after a scramble to reduce the arrears just before the bell sounded – and heralded another Kinlochshiel triumph to remember.
Man of the match, for a commanding display at full back, was Shiel’s Finlay MacRae – another award in a glittering senior career that had started before youngster Archie was born.
Article by Keith MacKenzie
We’ll have more action and reaction from the MacTavish Cup final in this week’s Free Press, out on Thursday