Camanachd Leòdhais got 2016 off to a great start with a well fought 3-2 win over North Division Two rivals and recently relegated Lochcarron in a preseason friendly played on astro-turf at Millburn Academy, Inverness.
Both clubs had not faced each other since 2013, when present Lewis captain Kenny “Duffy” Murray was player-manager of the Wester Ross side which gave the game a level of intrigue.
The first real chance fell to na Leòdhasaich and Donald Lamont but keeper Peter MacKenzie diverted it wide.
Lochcarron then had a few shots but deputising keeper Eòghan “Ebomb” Stewart saved smartly – the Big Gaelic Teacher making several crucial saves throughout the day.
On 18 minutes, Lewis broke the deadlock and it was 15 year old Scott MacLeod who skinned his man and then cracked a shot past the despairing Mackenzie. MacLeod was lining up really well
Na Carranaich managed to beat Stewart at the other end but the ball hit the post.
They did eventually allow the Wester Ross side in when Seumas Charity failed to track his old Lochbroom team-mate Euan “Homer” MacFadyen who gave Stewart no chance.
Lewis responded well to their opponents’ equaliser and with aplomb young MacLeod became scorer turned provider – again evading his mark, firing in a shot that was saved and converted by Donald Lamont – 2-1. Lamont and MacLeod were linking well with captain Murray, who seemed a good fit for the forward line, although his own golden opportunity went high over the bar.
The half finished with Lewis the stronger, although Lochcarron had a flurry of goalmouth activity in which saw Conor Macdonald, who had had an impressive performance at wingback, injured by one of his own players. He was replaced by Ronan Sinclair.
In the second half, Daniel Gallagher was there to clear a ball from the line after Stewart had committed to leaving his area. “Gaga” was looking incredibly comfortable in his old full-back role and it was a shame that he was forced to leave the park on 80 minutes with a hand injury that may keep him out for a couple of months.
Before this happened however, the islanders stretched their lead. Donald Lamont had forced MacKenzie into an incredible flying save but then Lochcarron rallied strongly. Having been under pressure for a good few minutes, Lewis were given a shy – Al Reed delivered a fine ball into the centre of the park, where Charity and Ally Lamont communicated well, delivering a ball onto MacLeod’s backhand which he popped home with aplomb from 25 yards. 3-1.
This goal was to prove crucial as Lochcarron were to grab a second with five minutes left, capitalising on an unsettled defence after Murray had come back to replace Gallagher.
Kieran Murray was able to get the ball over the line to set up a nervy finish for Lewis, but the young team showed maturity to close out the game and seal a victory over Lochcarron for the first time.
Manager Duncan MacIntyre was delighted with the performance of his team in his first game in charge “I just want to say a huge well done to each and everyone one of my players for the performance.
At the start of the game I told them what I expected and they absolutely delivered on every front. There were exceptional performances all over the park; skill, determination, aggression and a willingness to play through the pain barrier which got us our reward.”
Sadly, there is no game against Uist this Saturday, but MacIntyre will be taking his players out to Shawbost for a practice. Youth training continues to be a success with over 20 youngsters attending regularly.