Fort William win Juvenile MacTavish Cup

Ahead of the senior final on 10th June, Fort William and Skye took to the Bught to showcase the best of youth shinty in the North.

It was a gloriously hot afternoon of shinty and ahead of the senior final, Fort William and Skye were set to do battle for the MacTavish Juvenile Cup. It was fairly plain sailing into the final for both sides, Fort beat local rivals Kilmallie 12-0 in the semis while Skye won 5-0 against Kingussie. As the teams were piped out onto the field it was two Archies who led their sides as Captain, MacKinnon who has been playing senior shinty for a few years now gaining vital experience at that level and Millar fresh from his call up to the Scotland U17 Squad for Skye.

Jamie MacPherson threw the ball up for the start of the match and it didn’t take long for Fort William to open the scoring, Ewen Campbell picking the ball up on the left flank before driving into the centre and cracking a shot across the keeper into the top right corner. The sides exchanged a few more chances but a combination of good defending and some good stops kept it at 1-0. That was until the 27th minute when James Clark picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, skipped past his marker and rifled a towards the keepers left hand post, there was nothing Archie Buchan in nets could do to stop what was a tremendous hit.

Skye could be forgiven for letting their heads drop coming into the final ten minutes of the half 2 goals down but they did the exact opposite and bit back with a goal from Jamie Ross. A free hit from Iain MacInnes floated towards the edge of the D, while this was originally dealt with by the Fort backline, their clearance allowed Seonaidh Alex MacLeod to have a strike from distance and while Owen O’Hagen made a good save, there was nothing he could do about the rebound which was swept in by Ross. Game on! Just as the half was drawing to a close Skye were awarded a penalty for a trip on Ross as he waltzed into the D. Captain Millar stepped up and converted cooly into the keepers bottom right. From 2-0 to 2-2 in the space of 6 minutes and there was a sense amongst the crowd that we were in for a really good game.

The teams emerged for the second half and began exchanging chances, Fort with the better of most of the exchanges but unable to seriously trouble the Skye defence, that was until Campbell tried his luck from the left flank, his well hit drive stopped impressively by Buchan and turned away for a corner. Then, it was Skye’s turn to threaten Millar forcing a great save out of O’Hagen from an acute angle. Fort William would soon answer with another chance though, James Clark’s low hit was diverted by Buchan using his feet. With both keepers in great form, it became clear that we would require some cool headedness to separate the sides and that is exactly what we got from Skye’s MacInnes who ran onto a ball and despite not generating much power, had placement and delicacy in his finish that Ronnie O’Sullivan would’ve been proud of.

With 12 minutes left to go Skye were ahead for the first time in the match and it was time to test Fort William’s character and resilience. The Fort responded resoundingly though; 10 drifted one towards the Full-Forward who did enough to make sure the ball skipped on to Jack Kearney who, despite the pressure, converted impressively into Buchan’s bottom right corner. The final 8 minutes of the match were tense as both sides pushed for what would surely be a winner. Skye thought they had it with a very late goal from Alisdair Stewart but the offside flag put a stop to the celebrations.

With two great teams inseparable after 80 minutes it was into extra-time and on such a hot day it is testament to the players that they continued to battle with the intensity we have come to expect from our sport. In the end it was an extra-time winner from Fort’s Kearney who picked up the ball on the right flank, went round his man and then hit a skipping shot towards the Skye goal which deceived both defence and goalkeeper alike. A fitting way to end a match of real high quality from both teams. Fort William’s Captain Archie MacKinnon collected the trophy on behalf of his teams mates and lofted it high in the air much to the delight of the travelling Fort supporters. The Sandy MacKay Player of the Match Medal went to Skye’s Seonaidh Alex MacLeod.

You can watch the game, in its entirety, courtesy of the Camanachd Association here: