The Hebridean Celtic Festival Shinty Cup was another rip-roaring success for Festival goers last Saturday as a blistering contest took place at Bayhead.
Camanachd Leodhais were made to work hard to retain the cup by a Uist Camanachd team which also included some special guests from other clubs. There was another great crowd in attendance for this, the eighth running of the game.
The game started at an incredible pace, with both teams flying out of the traps on a hot and humid afternoon. Lewis had the better of the early exchanges, but close defending from a Uist team which now boasts a lot of experience, were able to restrict Lewis to long range efforts.
It took some good shooting to break the deadlock. Ally Lamont finished well from the angle on 25 minutes to open the scoring. Young Lamont has returned to the sport in recent years and is developing quickly as a player. He had previously been unlucky with an attempted volley from a corner.
He was then joined on the score sheet by his captain, Duncan Macintyre increasing the Dubh is Gorm’s lead a few minutes later. The veteran giving big Lee Thompson the slip and firing it past Stuart Carmichael in goals.
Uist rallied strongly from this point on, and started to neutralise the Leodhasach attacks, the guesting Callum Gibb of Skye keeping Paul Duke quiet. Uist’s Bruno Berardelli, formerly of Lochaber, had an air of threat about him and Graham Cay was forced into a fine save to maintain his side’s advantage at two goals going into the break.
In the second half, rain began to drizzle and Uist threatened to rain on the Lewis parade. Seumas Boyle looked dangerous at wing forward and Thompson’s goal hits were mighty salvoes which kept the pressure on Cay’s goal.
Daniel ‘Gaga’ Gallagher was again in imperious form in his new position of buckshee back, but there was some panicked defending as the Southern Islanders went all out to claw their way back in to the game.
Graeme Black at full centre for Uist gave Stuart ‘Tyson’ Campbell a testing day, but the older, more experienced Skyeman won the day with his positional sense and stickwork. His hitting was exemplary as he continued a great run of recent form. The substitution of Al “Seasalt” Reed robbed Lewis of a bit of stability and Alasdair Ferguson enjoyed much greater luck against Sean “Gob” Macleod.
Lewis only put the game beyond reasonable doubt when Paddy “Diablo” Sinclair burst forward with the ball from the left wing. He fed the ball into the forward line, and all four forwards took a touch, splitting the Uist backline, before returning it to Paddy to thunder it across Colin Nicholson into the Uist goal. Lewis gave a mighty roar of relief at this wonder goal, the Uibhistich looked disappointed at this sucker punch.
Nicholson however, made several excellent saves in the next few minutes but was helpless when Will Church got the better of Joseph MacInnes and scored a howitzer of a shot to make it four. The rest of the game played out entertainingly but without any real incident.
The four-nil scoreline did not flatter Lewis, they made a professional job befitting their national league status to close the game out but Uist would have been worthy of a consolation goal at least.
The match was played in a good spirit and the fantastic support of sponsors the Hebridean Celtic Festival and The Co-operative was acknowledged by the organisers.
The cup was presented to Duncan MacIntyre by Steven Cooper from the MacAulay Road Co-operative and the player of the match awards went to Graeme Black and Daniel Gallagher of Uist and Lewis respectively.
Lewis face newly crowned North Division Three Champions Caberfeidh this Saturday at Shawbost. Having secured top three shinty for the rest of the season, it should be an opportunity for Lewis to test themselves against a Cabers team whom they have performed well against in the past but never beaten.
Camanachd Leodhais V Caberfeidh
Marine Harvest North Division Three Top Half
Shawbost, Sat 26 2.30pm