Camanachd Leòdhais 0 – 4 Aberdeen University
A warm Ullapool day greeted the meeting on neutral ground of the top and bottom of the table teams in Marine Harvest North Division Three.
An oblivious onlooker would have been hard pressed to guess which team was which for large parts of this match – and at the end of the day the students were thankful for the hat-trick of Sgitheanach Kenny MacLeod for preserving their 100% record in the league.
After taking a real cuffing in only their second game of the season from the East Coasters, it was reassuring to see the calmness and method with which na Leòdhasaich set about their task. Innes Lamont was careening into tackles at wing back and Daniel “Gaga” Gallagher had MacLeod in his rather large back pocket.
Scott Murray, Kenny Mould and Stuart “Tyson” Campbell were combining well as a force in the midfield and as the game clock slowly ticked onwards, there seemed little danger as Aberdeen were reduced to long range strikes which Conor MacDonald was able to deal with between the sticks.
Then a looping ball into the box from Aberdeen captain Kieron Roberts caused confusion between MacDonald and Gallagher on eighteen minutes. MacLeod pounced upon his prey and, from an albeit tight angle, had an easy job slipping it home.
Lewis tried to rally again but worse was to come only a couple of minutes later as a scuffed ground shot from MacLeod trickled between MacDonald’s legs and into the net.
Thoughts of the capitulation earlier in the season and on this park against the likes of Fort William and Kingussie briefly entered players’ minds but resolute to their task the defence stuck at the game and dealt with the Aberdonians as well as they had before the unfortunate brace.
MacDonald settled his own nerves with two wonderful stick saves which on previous occasions might have gone awry and added to the deficit. The islanders are definitely developing a streak which makes them tough to beat.
Upfront, Ally MacKenzie was having the game of his life, causing chaos at wing forward and winning free-hit after free-hit.
Unfortunately this did not extend to being able to put any shots on target but seeing a player who has sometimes struggled for form this year getting into his stride was a great moral booster.
In the second half, Paul Duke kept things the same and Lewis now had a slight wind advantage. They started strongly again with Donald Lamont coming more into the game alongside debutant Innes McCuish from Harris.
Innes Lamont has been a revelation since he came back to shinty but he was unable to stop ex-Beauly man Scott Moffat fire in a rasping shot just after 50 minutes. The ability to hit the target with regularity was definitely the difference between the sides. Calum “Stompy” Stamper went close a few times but the forwards were game but certainly far too shot shy.
Stamper shifted back into Buckshee forward just before Kenny MacLeod added his third and Aberdeen’s fourth with around quarter of an hour to go, it was quite similar to the previous strike by Moffat in that Gallagher gave the top-scorer in Scotland right now just a little too much room and he streaked it past the flailing MacDonald.
Again Lewis are learning not to fold when things go against them, and with the addition of Euan Gilmour for McCuish, the hitting in the forward line improved and there were several late flurries, none of which unfortunately led to a goal for debutant and “youth” player Iain Sinclair, making his shinty bow at a tender age!
The match finished 4-0 and Lewis were complimented by all the Aberdeen players on their progress this season.
Scott Murray was again tireless in midfield and he was assisted magnificently by Campbell and Mould.
Aberdeen University mark their 150th anniversary this year and even Iain Sinclair was not around then, but the Aberdonians have published a wonderful history of their club with information about the club’s contribution to the wider world of shinty and if anyone is interested in a copy, more info can be found by contacting Lewis Camanachd via their website camanachdleodhais.com.
Manager Paul Duke was very proud of his players: “ A great effort today, a few things we still need to work on but the spirit is fantastic and it was great having Innes McCuish make a strong debut and Gaga was top notch today against the form striker in shinty.”
Saturday’s match marks the start of a great month of shinty in Lewis with Strathglass visiting Shawbost this Saturday, the HebCelt Shinty Cup at Bayhead on Festival Saturday between na Leòdhasaich and Uist Camanachd, followed by the Stornoway Sixes for the Craig Morrison Shield on the 23rd and then Caberfeidh arrive on the last Saturday.
Coaching has also been taking place at Fèis na Hearadh this week with Eòghan Stewart and it is hoped that a Hearach team will be taking part in a youth league with Stornoway, Shawbost and Lional in the coming months.
Marine Harvest North Division Three
Camanachd Leòdhais v Strathglass