Fivepenny Fledglings find their silver path

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Winning a major senior cup competition is no easy feat.

But fresh from lifting the Moldova Lewis Cup Ness boss Chris Macdonald is confident he has found a group of players capable of doing so on a regular basis.

The emergence of a new breed of young talented kids, who dominated at junior level and made the leap to senior football at the same time, exponentially raised expectations among supporters.

But the transition from junior hot-shots to senior stars was difficult while the loss of established senior stars like Leigh Johnson at the turn of the year meant Macdonald was again tasked with a rebuilding job.

Pre-season he admitted his fears that the numbers game, a lack of players, may catch up on them but he never, ever wavered in his belief for his players.

And his faith was repaid in spades on Saturday night when the youngsters, the Fivepenny Fledglings, soared to glory by lifting the final cup competition of the senior football season.

In beating Point 3-1, which was something they fully deserved to do on the night, they buried a 31-year long hoodoo from 1983 which was the last time Ness beat Point in any cup final.

But Point themselves are in the grip of something of a Lewis Cup jinx of their own having not won the trophy since 1995 when they, ironically, beat Ness 2-1, and their Saturday night defeat was their SEVENTH defeat in the Lewis Cup Final since that night some 19-years ago.

Golden generations of players don’t spring from nowhere but Ness’ youth structure has churned out a number of high quality teens in recent years given Macdonald an impressive pool of talent to work with.

Their cup final pool at the weekend boasted 14 youth product from a match squad of 16 – a fact which Macdonald is immensely proud of.

“Over the moon,” beamed Macdonald, “to win the cup is something we are very proud of the boys for.

“The lads have been waiting a long time for something like this and we are really happy for them and it is something they deserved.

“It is also really pleasing that so many of the squad came through the junior ranks and that could have been even higher but for losing a couple of players to other teams.”

Top marks on the night certainly go to match winner Jack Dunlop who scored two goals and made a third in a night of talent, bravery and personality. Dunlop ran the line in dogged and determined fashion and if he can stay fit, injuries have thus far blighted his development, he is a certainty to be leading the line for Lewis and Harris before long.

As always Micheil Russell-Smith was a stand-out performer for Ness. Spark and inventiveness walk hand in hand with the maverick midfielder who netted the clinching third goal after a trademark lung-bursting run into the box

But also worthy of being singled out is Iain ‘Cheeks’ Morrison who combined athleticism, quality on the ball and aerial prowess in a gritty performance as the anchor of the Ness midfield.

“Jack did very well for us,” continued Macdonald.

“He isn’t even fully fit just now but he still offers us strength, an aerial option and real composure as he showed with the way he dragged the two defenders over and laid on the third goal for
Micheil.”

To read the rest of the report, see this week’s Stornoway Gazette - on sale now!