A clinical Camanachd Leòdhais got their hands on the Heb Celt Cup for the fifth year in succession with a 4-2 win over local rivals Uist in an enthralling contest that could have gone either way.
Leòdhas had their largest squad of the season available to them with everybody at home for the festivities.
Wingback Peter Gomez captained the side whilst Connor Chalmers, David Cleary and Dougie Shaw provided a dangerous look up front.
Junior players Daniel Harrison, Calum MacRitchie and Kieran MacDonald each earned a spot on the bench.
Uist themselves brought a squad of fourteen that was arguably the strongest they’ve had in years. Ex-Lewis players Joseph MacInnes and James ‘Ach’ MacRae were joined by James’ brother Crisdean, Aberdeen University’s Graham Black and captain Keith MacDonald amongst others to provide formidable opposition.
A bumper crowd was on hand to witness the action. Uist started the better of the two sides, forcing Lewis keeper Graham Cay into several saves in the opening fifteen minutes.
Lewis then delivered a sucker punch when they took the lead twenty minutes in. The keeper saved a long-range effort from Ally Lamont but Shaw got to the ball first, took a touch to take it past the on-rushing keeper before firing it into the empty net.
The goal buoyed Lewis and the home side took control of the game. A fantastic stick save first denied Al Reed before some wonderful team play afforded him a chance down the right but his shot was off target.
Lewis doubled their lead on the stroke of half time.
Lamont sent the ball towards the Uist danger area. The ball beat the last defender and fell into the path of Cleary who drilled the ball into the goal.
Unfortunately for both sides, they were hit with the injury bug. Uist’s MacInnes suffered a nasty leg injury but after a trip to the hospital, he returned to play for most of the second half. For Lewis, Lamont broke his metatarsal in a challenge as the half drew to a close. Lewis will be hoping one of this season’s top performers won’t spend too many weeks on the sidelines. Paddy Sinclair, who was playing very well at halfback, moved to full centre with Conor MacDonald coming into the defence.
The second half started as a near carbon copy of the first, with Uist determined to pull a goal back.
A couple of shots flew inches wide before a scramble in the Lewis box could easily have led to a goal for the visitors but the ball just wouldn’t sit for them.
As the pressure continued to mount Lewis again scored against the run of play. Shaw’s shot was well saved but Cleary reacted quickly and slotted the rebound home.
The third goal had relieved a lot of the pressure and allowed the home side to get back on top of things. Uist were still looking threatening but with ten minutes to go, Lewis made it 4-0. Cleary recognised he had two men on him and passed the ball back to Paul Duke who sent an unstoppable shot into the bottom left corner.
4-0 was harsh on Uist however they refused to lie down as they showed true fight in the last ten minutes to keep their opponents worried. Eventual man of the match Crisdean MacRae pulled one back almost instantly as he prodded home from close range.
Uist captain MacDonald volleyed just over the bar shortly after a shot cannoned off the woodwork and away to safety. Uist did manage to breach the Lewis defence once more at the death as James MacRae was left free to make it 4-2.
A nervous Lewis saw out the rest of the game and were delighted when Henry MacInnes blew for full-time, ensuring victory for a fifth consecutive year.
Lewis return to league action this weekend as they take on Lochcarron in Shawbost. Throw up will be at 2:30pm and live updates can be found on Twitter @lewiscamanachd