Friday 7th June 2024 saw the Corrie Construction Mackay Cup Final take place in Newtonmore on the Dr Johnnie Cattanach Pitch as the curtain raiser and the first of three Shinty Finals which were taking place over the course of the weekend.  The final was contested between Caol Primary School and Strathpeffer Primary School.

Both schools had  come through the group stages of this competition having played, and beaten schools from up and down the country and it was fantastic to be able to welcome all the players, coaches and 100+ crowd of supporters to Newtonmore for the occasion, despite the poor June weather. Prior to the start of the game teams were piped onto the pitch and introduced to Alan Ewing (Corrie Construction) and Graeme MacDermid (CA Youth Director).

The game, officiated by Graeme Irving started with Caol on the attack, some nice play by captain Harry Stewart in the midfield, allowing the Caol forwards some time on the ball, if it wasn’t for the fantastic defensive work by Strathpeffer captain Xander MacDonald, Caol would have surely taken the lead in the first ten minutes.

Caol had the majority of the pressure in the first 30 minutes, showcasing some nice link up play from the midfield to forwards Chase Watson, Cian MacLean and Dean Conn, Strathpeffer however, were standing firm, some excellent saves by their keeper Harry MacDonald, as well as solid defending from his big brother Xander along with Archie MacKain and Roddy MacDonald keeping their team in the game. Caol must have thought luck was against them when a thunderous long range strike from Harry Stewart came back off the cross bar into the path of Watson who, under pressure from MacDonald couldn’t find the target. Strathpeffer always looked dangerous on the break but some excellent hitting by Fergus Stewart at the back for Caol didn’t let much past them. Graeme Irving blew his whistle to signal half time and give the teams a few minutes reprieve to regroup and shelter from the June rain.

The second half started off very evenly with Strathpeffer showing their potential through Robbie Grants hard work in the midfield line, showing tenacity in his play, never giving up and putting the impressive Harry Stewart under constant pressure. The game swayed back and forth for the first five minutes of the second half but Caols pressure kept mounting. Fergus Stewart again was letting nothing past the half way line, sweeping up everything that came his way. It was 46 minutes when the first Caol goal came, a nice passage of play down the right hand side resulted in Xander MacDonald making two important blocks before the ball broke to Harry Stewart who, after making a robust tackle, got the break of the ball to the left and rifled a shot towards goal, Harry MacDonald came out to meet the ball but it was going that fast it took a wicked bounce in front of him and nestled in the back of the net, putting Caol 1-0 up with 14 minutes to play.

This seemed to settle the Caol team down a bit and from the restart they continued their pressure. Their second goal came again from the left hand side, Josh Luxton, who was actually in goals during the first half,  playing a high ball into the middle which was picked up by Taylor Cameron, Xander MacDonald came in to make the tackle and the clearance which under pressure rebounded off Cameron and shot back out to the left of the pitch where Luxton was waiting and sent a high, looping shot towards the goal which young MacDonald didn’t have a chance with, a fantastic goal by Luxton and making the scoreline 2-0 Caol with 48 minutes played.

The third Caol goal once again came from the impressive Luxton, who seemed to have boundless energy, despite the cold conditions. Luxton picked up the ball from a Strathpeffer goal hit, stopping the ball with an outstretched stick, played it down the right to Chase Watson who then passed it to the middle where Taylor Cameron was waiting, Cameron in front of goal drew both remaining Strathpeffer defenders towards her, mid tackle she pushed the ball across the D to a waiting Luxton who made no mistakes and slotted the ball past the keeper into the back of the net bringing the score to 3-0.

For the last 8 minutes Strathpeffer pushed Xander MacDonald up into the midfield line and he continued to work tirelessly for his team. The final whistle came on 60 minutes to draw a close to a fantastic display of shinty from both school teams in very cold and wet conditions . We were delighted to have John MacKenzie and  David ‘Tarzan’ Ritchie, there to select and present the Anne Cameron player of the match to Xander MacDonald from Strathpeffer Primary for his determined and resilient display.

Alan Ewing from Corrie Construction along with Graeme MacDermid, CA Youth Director were on hand to conduct the presentations to both sets of players and coaches and were able to hand over the Corrie Construction MacKay Cup to Caol Captain Harry Stewart for 2024.

Thanks went to both sets of players, coaches and parents for their support before during and after the event. To referee Graeme Irving for officiating the game along with his goal judges Joey and Josh, to Newtonmore Camanachd Cup for use of their excellent facilities, to Neil, Fi and Alasdair for capturing the event in film and photo, and to the sponsors Corrie Construction for their continued support of this event.

Photo by Neil G Paterson