The long wait is finally over for Lovat

The Lovat team celebrate a first Camanachd Cup victory for 62 years after edging out Kyles in Oban. Picture: Neil G Paterson
The Lovat team celebrate a first Camanachd Cup victory for 62 years after edging out Kyles in Oban. Picture: Neil G Paterson
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It TOOK 62 years of waiting but yesterday Lovat were celebrating their first Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup win since 1953.

On that fateful day, they defeated Kyles 4-1. Yesterday afternoon in Oban they beat the same opponents 2-1 and goalkeeper Stuart MacDonald will have been the toast of Kiltarlity last night.

While Kevin Bartlett got Lovat’s two vital strikes, it was MacDonald’s series of vital stops that paved the way for this historic win.

The Scotland No.1 made several destiny-altering saves that formed the bedrock of the win and Bartlett was fulsome in his praise.

“To have a solo performance like that in a final is amazing. Stuart is the best player I have ever played with, and he’s a goalkeeper so that says a lot.”

Lovat had some good news prior to the match as well, even if it robbed them of player Jamie Matheson.

Matheson’s partner Emma gave birth late on the eve of the match and the new dad chose to be with mum and their new-born son.

The game started cagily but the action settled around the Lovat goal.

In six minutes, the Kyles fans on Mossfield’s famous knoll thought Grant Irvine had put them ahead but the ball glanced the wrong side of MacDonald’s goal.

The Lovat keeper then performed a double feat of fast reactions, parrying two goal-bound efforts over both post and bar.

He followed that up with a jaw-dropping stop to deny Roddy Macdonald an opener in 29 minutes.

The towering front man made sure his effort had power and fizz but MacDonald’s reach was true, and a few inches of his stick kept the ball out and away for a corner.

Minutes before half-time he saved again with his feet. Indeed, the number of times he rescued his team-mates was verging on the embarrassing.

It seemed fitting, then, that Lovat should execute the sucker-punch, just before half-time. The Kyles defence allowed the ball to trickle behind them. Bartlett pounced and fired the ball behind John Whyte for a half-time lead they were fortunate to have.

Kyles must have been hurt badly because they came out and soon restored parity.

Robbie MacLeod made himself space at a free-hit and hammered the ball high into the net.

Kyles’ troubles increased in 54 minutes, however.

More loose defending afforded Bartlett another clear chance and, at that distance, he doesn’t miss.

After that, Kyles were virtually camped in front of Lovat’s goal but every trick they tried to beat Macdonald fell short.

Twice he denied Macdonald with his stick and, when Grant Irvine failed to convert a chance after the hero of the hour blocked an effort, Kyles must have felt their fate was sealed.

If Andy Goram supposedly broke the heart of the late Tommy Burns when he was Celtic manager, MacDonald broke the hearts of the Tighnabruaich management yesterday.

Not to mention their fans and the blue and white forward line.