Shinty: Final triumph sees Kingussie stake claim for Fort's crown

Kingussie lifted shinty's first major trophy of the season against Fort William on Saturday, proving that, in sport, nine months is a long time.

Cast your mind back to last September and it was Fort celebrating victory over Kings in the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup final at this same Bught Park venue in Inverness.

The tables turned with Kingussie's 4-2 win in the Co-operative MacTavish final, but it was not just an ordinary tale of victory.

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Kingussie's win was further validation that their attempts to rebuild are bearing fruit. Conversely, onlookers were probably witnessing the death throes of a great Fort William side.

Despite the palpable threat that defeat would mean the first barren season at An Aird since 2004, they didn't seem capable of the type of effort that would win this final.

They had missed a penalty through Gary Innes, but John MacDonald struck a 35-yard effort 12 minutes before half-time and they completed a comeback from 2-0 down to go in level at the interval, thanks to Innes' strike which made it 2-2 in the 44th minute.

Yet it looked like they had expended all their energy, barely hanging on by their fingernails, and they didn't possess the verve to take the final by the scruff of the neck.

Kingussie, on the other hand, came out with bite, won the battle of the centre line and started to pull Fort's ageing back-line into wide areas. In the end, they were worthy of their victory, close-range efforts from Craig Dawson and captain Ronald Ross ensuring the third trophy of the 'transitional phase' was heading back to the trophy cabinet in the Silverfjord Hotel.

"Everyone has been talking about transition,'' said Dawson, making his first final appearance for Kingussie in ten years. ''We have a lot more young boys now and it is definitely the way to go, but we won two trophies last year and narrowly missed out on the league.

''We have now won the first cup of this season. Fingers crossed, we can carry on from here."

Kingussie are a much more mobile proposition these days and fielded five young players who would not have had a hope of breaking through two years ago.

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Fraser Munro, a whiz of kinetic energy, was named man-of-the-match and scored in the first minute.

Louis Munro was having an excellent game until a dislocated shoulder ended his involvement, and Ryan Borthwick may have found his position, shining in defence.

Thomas Borthwick grew into the final in the second half and sub Martin Dallas, 19, was an inspiration. Son of Camanachd Cup record-holder, Ali, he replaced the injured Munro and scored in his first final to make it 2-0.

Fort William's two youths, Steven and Daniel Stewart, should be pleased with their own cup final baptisms.

The failings, though, came from within the same group of players who led them to historic heights in the past. Those mountains, now, are too high to climb. Time to hit the 'refresh' button.