Lewis went down to a strong Strathspey side in the first round of the Strathdearn Cup on Saturday, in the first ever cup match to be played in the Western Isles.
Donald Lamont was a late call-off with illness and Scott Murray and Innes Lamont, who had been influential the previous week against Inverness, also missed out as they were off the island. Therefore the islanders had an inexperienced look to their side, but to say this was the reason for their defeat would be an injustice to a fine performance by the visiting Grantown team.
The first 25 minutes saw good fluid shinty from both sides, but Lewis were failing to make any real penetration in the final third. In such situations the first goal is always crucial as some nerves crept into the play of both teams.
Spey’s Edgar Pecas moved out from full-back where Daniel Gallagher was in his usual relentless form, and the little Latvian gained a little more purchase on the wings. Pecas supplying the ball for Matthew Davies to find the net. When, five minutes later Andrew Hay burst past Paul Duke and breached the defence, Conor MacDonald made a reaction save but Hay volleyed home the rebound to make it two-nil.
Lewis were put under strong pressure but were moments away from being able to regroup at half-time when Paul Duke gave Hay too much room and he scored an absolute top-corner rocket from 35 yards which left Conor MacDonald with zero chance. Three-nil and Lewis faced an uphill battle.
Hay’s stunner would have ranked as the finest goal of the day, if not for the fact within moments of taking the field for the second half he produced an even finer effort from almost 50 yards to finally take away Lewis’ chances. 4-0 put the game fully out of Lewis reach.
Pecas would grab a fifth for Spey with around half an hour left, and Mark Macdonald, formerly of Newtonmore, grabbed the sixth with a penalty conceded by Peter Gomez throwing caution to the wind and handling on the line.
Lewis rallied in the last 20 minutes but failed to really test the Spey keeper even then. The match closed out 6-nil.
It was a strange scoreline which may or may not have fully reflected the balance of play in the first half, but more so in the second. Hay’s brilliance was indeed the difference, but Lewis could and should have done more all across the park. In patches, Lewis played some very nice shinty but consistency across the 90 minutes cost them.
However, outside the pressures of a league match, Lewis had made a conscious decision to experiment which will hopefully stand the club in good stead in the long term.
Iain ‘Diablo’ Sinclair gave game time to promising youngsters Ruaridh MacMillan and Ronan Sinclair as well. Sean McCarthy also made his debut off the bench and the hurler will have gained valuable experience of playing the Scottish code of the ancient Gaelic game. Players such as Paddy ‘Diablo’ Sinclair, Ally Lamont and Al ‘Seasalt’ Reed all gained time in different positions as well which will help these under-21s develop further. Lewis now go into the Strathdearn Plate competition where they may meet Strathglass, Spey progress to an intriguing quarter-final clash with Lochbroom.
Even more Leòdhasach and Hearach youngsters should gain valuable experience this Saturday as the Dubh is Gorm enter teams in the Far North Sixes in Scourie, hosted by Kinlochbervie. Lewis won this tournament in 2010 but only entered a youth team last year. Hopefully, six will be a joy and not a losing scoreline this Saturday.
The club is hosting the Craig Morrison Stornoway Sixes on Saturday 21st June and is hoping that local sports clubs might be interested in entering some teams for fun into the competition which is always a great tribute to Craig Morrison who passed away in 2009. Contact Conor Macdonald on 07906247411.