Shinty: Kyles Athletic 1 - 2 Newtonmore - ‘More leave it late but take title again

Sport often draws a fine line between delirium and anguish and yesterday’s shinty title showdown in Dunoon was the perfect illustration, with Newtonmore prising the championship away from Kyles with a minute to play.

Had this compelling contest ended at 1-1, as it looked likely to, Kyles could have wrapped up the trophy next week with a point against a Kingussie side who have not lifted a caman for weeks.

It didn’t though, thanks to an intervention by Newtonmore’s big-game player Danny McRae, who, having scored earlier, struck again to make it 2-1 and seal back-to-back titles for the outfit from Badenoch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fans bedecked in blue and white stripes danced around on a field more noted for the pipes and drums of the Cowal Gathering and, by the end, there was an impromptu gathering of Newtonmore villagers cheering and cuddling in the centre line.

The Kyles players, having led the championship right up until a week ago, could only look on and ponder the cruelty of that fateful final 90 seconds in a whole season.

“We never do things the easy way at Newtonmore,” said hero McRae, spattered with blood from a clash with a Kyles player’s caman.

“We left it to the end again but, if you win two titles in a row, I don’t think anyone can dispute you are the best team in shinty.”

Supporters making their way across the Clyde by ferry were met by a slate grey sea but, in Dunoon, the weather stayed fair enough for the park to pass an 8:30am pitch inspection.

By the time the teams strode on to the park for the winner-takes-all tussle, the grass was as luscious and green as it could be for November on the west coast.

The stage was set, then, and both sets of players looked focused at a time of year in which they should have been thinking of downing sticks.

When referee Graham Irving started the match, the opening exchanges were as they often are on such high-stake occasions: tense and finely-balanced.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Soon both sides began to establish their gait, though, and it became apparent the crowd of around 2,000 was going to see a game worthy of its consequences.

Kyles may soon be saying farewell to the services of legendary keeper Kenny MacDonald but he was again excellent yesterday.

With a trademark flick of his stick, MacDonald foiled both MacRae and Glen MacKintosh of Newtonmore, the latter seeing the keeper deflect the ball on to a post.

Kyles carried menace in attack but it was not until Thomas Whyte flashed a shot wide in 27 minutes that the threat manifested itself in a clear-cut opportunity.

At the other end, the classy David Cheyne was the chief creator for Newtonmore, who should have been celebrating rather than seeing Ackie MacRae glancing the best chance of the half wide.

The blue and white stripes were to rue that as the home side took the lead just before the half-time whistle.

A tangle of bodies inside the Newtonmore penalty area finally resulted in the ball squirming across the goal-line and Kyles skipper Dunky Kerr was on hand to tap the ball into the net.

Kyles might have thought they had an edge but McRae put Newtonmore back in the match from close range before applying the telling, but cruel, finish to ensure the trophy was heading back north to the Eilan.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I was worried about the fitness of the players going into this game but they deserve great credit,” croaked Newtonmore boss, Norman Macarthur. By this time he had almost lost his voice but found a championship.