Camanachd Leòdhais marked the magnificent seventh year of the HebCelt Cup with a truly magnificent seven-nil vanquishing of Uist Shinty Club.
In glorious sunshine and a large crowd Lewis streaked out the traps, determined to wipe away the memory of a poor performance the previous year against a Southern Isles team which had been replete with ringers.
This year, Uist fielded a fully Uibhisteach team, many with good experience of playing on the mainland but were overwhelmed as Stuart Campbell made short shrift of Uist captain Lee Thompson at full centre from the off.
Veteran striker Duncan MacIntyre, having spent his early career in defence, showed he is enjoying his Indian Summer with a beautiful hat-trick in the first ten minutes.
He gained good fortune with the first but the second was a candidate for goal of the season, a fine turn and rocket shot. The third was the icing on the cake.
Much of MacIntyre’s opportunities had resulted from hard work by Donald Lamont.
Having had a torrid time this season without a score to his name but against Uist he seemed a man reborn, snapping into tackles and causing chaos.
It was just reward for him when he sneaked in the fourth to break his goal drought. Perhaps realising MacIntyre had overtaken him in the scoring charts, Will Church soon got in on the act and a smooth double soon restored his superiority and also the sixth goal equalled the club’s record for goals in a match.
All done and dusted by the 33rd minute.
The defence were hardly troubled allowing Peter Gomez and Dougie Shaw to make foraging runs from defence. Indeed Shaw ensured that Uist gained very little change.
Into the second half and the goal flood petered out, although Lewis retained the vast bulk of the play, as youngsters Al Reed, Ally Lamont and Paddy Sinclair all received the opportunity to gain serious game time. Calum Stamper also made a cameo appearance.
The scoring was completed by MacIntyre after a fine assist from Eoghan Stewart to send Lewis into seventh heaven.
Uist struggled to make an impact other than some off the ball challenges which saw Farzel Froogie receive a talking from referee Matt Mossop, although young defender Joseph MacInnes, who recently received Most Improved Player at the National Development Camp, showed great application all day before going off injured and Graham Black, the Ferguson brothers and Seumas Boyle all kept the spirits up to the last.
The final whistle saw a euphoric Lewis team delighted to see captain for the day, the iconic Daniel ‘Gaga’ Gallagher, receive the trophy from the Camanachd Association’s Angus MacVicar. Mr MacVicar complimented the high skill level of both teams on display and noted that shinty in the Hebrides had a great future.
The generosity of the Hebridean Celtic Festival in providing hospitality to both teams was also noted by the organisers and hopefully the competition will continue.
Earlier in the week, 16 youngsters had a great time at the Campa an t-Samhraidh run by Comhairle nan Eilean’s Motiv8 and Lewis Camanachd.
Delivered by Alba manager Eòghan Stewart and assisted by several players, the lads developed their skills through drills and games over three days, each participant receiving a free t-shirt.
The club were also very happy to have Dòmhnall Barden assisting, as his late father Alasdair was instrumental in reintroducing shinty to Lewis and Harris, and it was a heartening sight to see him wield the caman.