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Newtonmore seconds go unbeaten for whole season in revised shinty league

By Gavin Musgrove

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Ritchie Irvine and Daniel Craven contest the ball in the final league game of the season for Newtonmore. Picture: Keith Ringland
Ritchie Irvine and Daniel Craven contest the ball in the final league game of the season for Newtonmore. Picture: Keith Ringland

Newtonmore seconds have completed their season unbeaten in Mowi North League B and are expected to be crowned champions when the Camanachd Association meets to confirm the outcomes of the leagues.

Despite the absence of several key players, and the loss of the game’s opening goal, the Newtonmore colts battled back to beat Inverness’ first team 3-1 in Saturday’s Mowi North League B encounter at the Eilan.

Newtonmore manager Peter Ross and his assistant Mark Taylor were without seven regulars including the experienced Scott Chisholm, Glen MacKintosh and Fraser MacKintosh as well as youngster Charlie Ferguson.

Steven Campbell travelled south with a young Inverness side on what was the final day of an abridged senior shinty season.

Newtonmore top scorer Craig Macleod had the ball in the net early on only for referee Deek Cameron to rule his effort out for offside.

Inverness rubbed salt in the wound as they took the lead on 25 minutes with the goal coming against the run of play.

Steven Bellshaw was the scorer, flicking the ball backwards into the net to make it 1-0. However, Craig Macleod eventually got his goal 5 minutes before half-time to draw ‘More level.

Good goals from Tristan Ross on 56 minutes and Brodie MacBean on 71 minutes ensured ‘More ran out 3-1 winners and they stay top of the table.

’More used the rolling substitutes to good effect and at one point; a knock to James Ross saw Craig Macleod come back on in an unfamiliar wing back role.

The win means Newtonmore won eight of their nine matches whilst drawing the other with Lovat.

With not all fixtures fulfilled, the games sporting body will decide the league outcomes and ’More are more than likely to be crowned as title winners.

The Camanachd Association competitions committee is understood to have met on Tuesday evening, but their recommendations will need to go before the full board for approval and an announcement.

Newtonmore assistant manager Mark Taylor said: “We fielded a good, young fit team on Saturday and it was a good game, very free-flowing.

“Craig Macleod’s goal settled us and allowed our players to show their talent.”

The only blemish over a 17 match season, during which the ’More seconds likely played more games than any other team, was a penalty shootout defeat to Lovat after a 4-4 draw in the Strathdearn Cup final.

However, they atoned for the defeat a week later, beating Lovat 5-1 in the HIS Sutherland Cup final, a trophy manager Ross and assistant Taylor won as players with Kincraig in 2001 when they beat Aberdeen University 3-2 at the Eilan.

Taylor, who broke into the Kincraig side as a 13-year-old forward before going on to play for the Newtonmore seconds, Inverness, Boleskine and latterly Strathspey Camanachd where he featured in goal, reflected on the season: “It has been a strange time for everyone.

“Peter and I came in at the start of the 2020 season when Orsten (Gardner) moved up to take the first team but we only had one game when we beat Kinlochshiel at Kincraig and then everything stopped.

“That was a shame for our boys as we had a good squad and I think we would have done well. When shinty restarted, it was without supporters and there was no lead-in time; it was straight into competitive games.

“The boys worked hard to prepare though, doing their own training during lockdown when they were allowed to.

“Then fans were then allowed back so it has all been very odd but it’s great to have the game back again.

“The way Peter and I set the side up is to have the more experienced players through the middle of the team with the youngsters feeding off them and benefiting from their experience.

“Glen (MacKintosh) has been our talisman and he is such a big help bringing the young players on.

“Scott Chisholm, Fraser MacKintosh and Kenny Ross are the same and they have all been great servants to the club. It all helps the team and helps the young boys progress which is the most important thing.

“Our keeper Jason MacDonald has also had a good season. Peter and I had him at Kincraig and he came to Newtonmore with us.”

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