Camanachd Leòdhais acquitted themselves well despite coming off second best as they rounded off their preseason in Portree on Saturday. The squad was high on confidence following their recent victory over Lochcarron and battled hard but Skye ultimately ran out 3-0 winners, lifting the recently resurrected “Kaid” MacLean Cup in the process.
With Daniel Gallagher expected to miss the opening few games of the season through injury, manager Duncan MacIntyre had to shuffle the pack somewhat, with Paul Duke taking over at fullback and Stuart “Tyson” Campbell starting at centre. Will Church, last season’s top scorer, also made his return to the team, having being unavailable for the previous preseason game.
Following a successful season that saw them crowned champions of North Division Two, Skye started brightly and were able to create a couple of early chances. Lewis too were making forays forward at every opportunity, with Peter Gomez working tirelessly down the right wing. Indeed, Lewis’ first real opening came down the right wing following some neat play. The keeper saved Kenny “Duffy” Murray’s shot from distance before clearing it in the face of the oncoming Will Church.
It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Skye finally broke the Lewis resistance and took the lead. Iain MacLellan managed to win possession on the right following a tussle for the ball before dispatching his shot high into the roof of the net. It looked like Lewis would go into the break only one down when Skye saw a shot cannon off the post and bounce away to safety. Skye’s persistence eventually paid off however as they fashioned one final chance before the half, John Angus MacInnes managing to squeeze a shot over the goal line from a tight angle, doubling Skye’s lead.
The second half saw Ally Lamont make way for Connor Chalmers whilst Paul Duke and Stuart Campbell swapped positions. Before too long, an injury to Innes Lamont forced his exit, with Michael MacLeod entering the fray. Manager MacIntyre will be hoping Innes will be fit for this weekend’s season opener.
Skye continued their strong play into the second half but a string of top-notch saves from goalkeeper Eòghan Stewart kept the home side at bay.
Skye’s third and final goal might have been a bit fortuitous in it’s creation but the finish itself was sublime, Ryan Morrison catching a ricochet on the hop and flicking it into the goal.
Shortly thereafter, Lewis found themselves in a good position following an Al Reed clearance. Kenny Murray, Donald Lamont and Scott MacLeod were all in and around the ball deep in their opponent’s territory but were unable to get an effort on goal before Skye captain David Grant knocked it away.
The final action of the game saw Skye awarded a penalty but a sprawling Stewart was relieved to see the ball flying inches wide.
Following the game, Leòdhas manager Duncan MacIntyre said: “Another really strong performance from the team. I see steady improvement all over the park that bodes well for the tough season ahead. All our thoughts are now focused on our visit to Caberfeidh for the first league match of the season.”
The Camanachd Leòdhais ladies were also in Skye at the weekend to take on the Skye Camanachd ladies. Poppy Taylor scored for Lewis but it wasn’t enough as Skye took home the Cuach a’ Chairdeas, running out 14-1 winners. A valuable experience nonetheless and the ladies will hope that with hard work they will continue to improve.
This Saturday sees the men travel to Strathpeffer to take on Caberfeidh in the league season opener. Lewis will hope they can replicate their performance from last season when they came away with a 1-0 win. Throw up is expected to be at 1pm and supporters are always welcome. There will be live updates during the game on twitter. Please follow the club @lewiscamanachd