Camanachd Leòdhais got off the mark for the season and scored a first-ever victory over Boleskine Camanachd with a second half performance of style.
At Smith Park, the teams met for the first time in two years and it was evident that Lewis had developed in that time. “Pre-season is over” was the message from captain Kenny “Duffy” Murray, after a couple of disappointing scorelines against Aberdeen and Glengarry.
Paul Duke started strongly in full centre, and soaked up a lot of pressure but Daniel “Gaga” Gallagher and the rest of his defence also ensured that Calum “Stompy” Stamper, making a first appearance between the sticks, did not have the hardest time for most of the first half.
Hitting into the strong wind seemed to help the Dubh is Gorm, as the ball held up well. Scott Murray took up position in the forward line, and with Donald Lamont showing signs of really being up for the game, they managed to make Boleskine unsure at the back. Ally Lamont had a couple of gilt edged opportunities but Lewis snatched at them both times.
The midfield battle saw some intriguing battles, with Michael Pirrie and Paddy Sinclair in a fight for supremacy on the wing.
Pirrie was influential, although his side were lacking the clever play of his absent brother Craig, who has a strong Harris connection. Lewis were in the ascendancy by the half hour mark.
Throughout the game, Innes Lamont mastered the former North Division 3 player of the year Lewis Smith very well. However, Smith was to play an important part as Boleskine were to sucker punch the islanders a few minutes before half time. Michael MacLeod failed to clear a ball near the halfway line, and this led to Boleskine’s first real run of sustained attack.
A couple of corners and an lack of clearing by the islanders, saw Smith feed the ball to Neil Hood who was able to blast the ball home from the edge of the box past the unsighted Stamper.
Iain Sinclair fought the temptation to makes changes at half-time, and allowed his charges to make up for not capitalising on their first half performance. The reply was almost instantaneous, Donald Lamont blasting the ball home almost straight from throw-up to level.
Lamont was having the game of his life, flying into tackles and blocking well. The Boleskine defence was closed down well and they were forced into putting the ball out anyway they could.
This led to a bit of luck resulting from a fine shy in the strong wind from Scott Murray. Murray’s ball took a deflection of a Boleskine defender’s stick and deceived the home keeper to give Lewis the lead.
Ally Lamont took a knock to the knee, and Al Reed was suffering with a slight ankle injury, so they were replaced by Seumas Charity and Connor Chalmers, with Scott Murray dropping into midfield.
Charity made an impact, with two shots going agonisingly wide and young Chalmers battled gainfully, and was involved in the build-up for what was to be the decisive goal.
Donald Lamont collected the ball, dragged it to the left of the box and smashed a backhand into the net.
Lewis could have added to their tally, and Stamper dealt well with the few further sallies that the Loch Ness-siders threw at them.
It was an historic away win against a club who have always had the upper hand over the islanders.
Manager Iain Sinclair said: “A great result, a great effort and great shinty but our thoughts now turn to Kilmallie this Saturday.”
The win capped a successful week for the club, with a 2-0 win over the touring St Andrew’s University on Wednesday night at Bayhead providing much needed match practice, and a couple of goals for Will Church.
The Varsity side were visiting as part of their Hebridean Tour, led by their captain Micheál Macdonald, a Lewis Camanachd player.
Several Lewis Camanachd players will be involved in Wednesday’s Littlejohn Tournament for Universities to be held in St Andrews.