TULLOCH HOMES CAMANACHD CUP FINAL
Newtonmore 3 Lovat 0
KEITH MACKENZIE, in Oban
Three was the magic number for Newtonmore on their way to Camanachd Cup glory against Lovat in Oban yesterday.
The Badenoch side sealed the famous trophy for the third year in a row with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Mossfield which also extended their record haul of Camanachd Cup wins to 33. And it could yet be trebles all round for PJ MacKintosh’s men who are just one win away from clinching the premiership title to make it a hat-trick of senior trophies in 2018, having already lifted the MacTavish Cup earlier in the summer.
After a frantic, but fairly even opening spell in which both goalkeepers made saves Newtonmore edged ahead on 29 minutes, and never looked back.
Evan Menzies twisted away from his marker to rifle in a shot from 20 yards which beat Stuart MacDonald, the Lovat keeper, at his near post. It was a bitter blow for a Lovat side striving to learn the lessons from defeat in last year’s final, when a slow start proved costly.
Greg Matheson, the Kiltarlity side’s talisman, had the ball in the net but his effort was rightly ruled offside in what was a frustrating day for the Lovat attack.
Newtonmore continued to make better use of the ball, and the wide spaces of the Mossfield pitch, and two goals on the stroke of half time all but settled the outcome.
The second goal summed up the gulf in quality over the 90 minutes. The danger came after Lovat’s Craig Mainland shanked a shy on the right touchline, handing Newtonmore’s Jamie Robinson the opportunity for a hit-in of his own. From there his long looping effort was flicked to Glen MacKintosh who fashioned just enough space to steer a low bouncing effort beyond the diving MacDonald.
Seconds later Menzies drilled in the third – another daisy cutter which crept in at the near post.
When Marc MacLachlan, who had looked Lovat’s most likely goal threat, limped off after twisting his knee early in the second half the game was up for the Kiltarlity side.
Newtonmore’s defence, in which youngster Crag Ritchie excelled alongside Rory Kennedy, Andy MacKintosh and Norman Campbell, held firm and keeper Kenny Ross would enjoy a largely trouble-free afternoon in what, at the grand old age of 48, was his first final.
MacDonald made a terrific save to deny Menzies a hat-trick, but the striker’s day was complete when he was awarded the Albert Smith medal as man of the match.
He said: “Once we got our noses in front, with the defence we have we were always going to be tough to break down.
“Hopefully there’s more to come – two points in the next game against Oban and we win the league, and that’s our target.”
Lovat manager Fraser Gallagher conceded his team had been second best.
“We didn’t have enough aggression in our defending in the first half, and put ourselves under pressure,” he added. “If anyone is going to knock them off the top it’s not because Newtonmore slip-up. Other teams are going to have to raise their standard. They should never be written off.”
Full report and more pictures in this week’s West Highland Free Press, out on Thursday 20th September