Stunning sunshine welcomed two Kingussie High School shinty teams to An Aird, the home of Fort William Shinty Club, for the S1/2 MacBean Cup competition on Wednesday 3 rd May.
The first year development team, coached by former pupil Calum Grant, opened with a narrow 1-0 loss to Portree and followed this with a victory over Grantown Grammar with Brodie MacBean nabbing the goal. Another win over Inverness High followed, before a loss to an older and stronger Lochaber team. Xander Ross, Kepa Salazar
Roy and Iain Fraser were moving the ball well up front, while Charlie Ferguson and Dylan Rendall competed for everything in the centre of the pitch. The toughest job fell to the defenders, with Pavel Nagle, Ritchie Irvine and Angus Grant battling hard against a very physical Glen Urquhart team. The defence and keeper, Finlay Patterson did particularly well to restrict the S2 Kingussie team to a one-nil win.
The S2 Kingussie team had started with a comfortable 4-0 win over Inverness High, with Ali Douglas looking particularly lethal. The next game was a dour 0-0 draw against Lochaber, where the strength of defenders Ewan Baker, Cammy Leiper and Sean Hilson was important. The next game was another draw, this time against Portree. They struggled to break down a very stubborn Grantown team, with Ali snatching a last second winner. A win over the S1 team and another draw against Glen Urquhart meant the boys went through to a semi-final against Portree. We lost a goal straight away and were rescued by an excellent long shot from Michael Slimon. We went two-one down, before Michael took the game over and scored with two more long range efforts. The final was against a strong Glen Urquhart side and it proved a nail-biter. Despite some strong and skilful dribbling from both Nathan Christie and Dafydd Simon, we were unable to find a way past their goalie.
Somhairle Thomson, who was outstanding throughout, was particularly good in winning every loose ball. Cammy and Ewan’s powerful hitting was finding Ali and extra full forward, Sean Hilson, but we couldn’t break the deadlock, even after extra-time.
Cometh the hour, cometh the hero and in the High School’s case it was goal keeper Xavio Vastano. The game had gone to penalties, with Ali and Ewan scoring two penalties each to match the Glen’s scores. Then in the third round of “sudden death” penalties , Xavio produced his third penalty save to touch a “screamer” of a shot on to the bar and over. Celebrations, presentations and MacDonalds followed.
Well done to Captain, Somhairle Thomson and the rest of his team. They had no subs and all nine boys played every second of each game on a scorching hot day. All of them deserve man of the match awards. Well done also to the S1 team – it’s your turn next year! Thanks to Calum Grant for coming along to help Mr Mackintosh out with coaching the boys. Thanks also to Mr Ross and his boys from Grantown, who came on the coach with us, and to Bremners and their driver for his patience.