Kings retain MacTavish Cup in tight battle with Skye

Kingussie beat Skye 1-0 in the first senior cup final of 2023 at Bught Park, Inverness.

The senior final was the third in a hat-trick of games to take place that day at Bught Park, following on from the Mackay and MacTavish Juvenile Finals which you can read about by clicking above.

Going into the match it is fair to say Kingussie were tipped as favourites having won a Grand Slam in 2022 and showing strong, if not imperious, form in the MOWI Premiership. That being said, newly promoted Skye had one of the strongest defensive records in the division and would have been spurred on by the adrenaline of reaching a senior final for the first time in 33 years.

It was day 6 of 20◦C+ in the Highland Capital and thousands of spectators had flocked to the Bught to soak up the sunshine and the shinty. Referee Martin MacLean got the game underway and in typical cup final style, the first 20 minutes were quite frantic with hard running and passion on show more so than technique. The first real chance of the game fell the way of the islanders, a long ball was picked up on the left flank by Ruaraidh MacLeod who slipped the ball infield to Jordan Murchison, his shot well saved by the onrushing Rory ‘Bob’ McGregor. You wait all day for a chance and then two come at once, directly on the counter attack, a long ball dropped over the Skye defence and let Kingussie Captain James Falconer have a crack from the right wing, his shot saved smartly by the left hand of Murphy Henderson.

The first water break of the day gave the players a chance to get some much needed fluids on board but also allowed the coaches to send out some tactical instructions. Just two minutes after the restart, Kingussie had the ball in the back of the net from a corner courtesy of James Falconer – only to have the goal rightly chalked off for offside. Kingussie’s tails seemed to be up after that though, Thomas Borthwick had a shot from the edge of the D that needed blocking from Skye’s William MacKinnon. The resulting corner would be how Kingussie found the breakthrough though, Ruaridh Anderson drilled the ball in and Borthwick dummied at the front post, leaving Falconer to drive it home low into the bottom corner much to the delight of the travelling fans. One was almost two straight from the throw up as Henderson was forced into another save with his feet, the Skye keeper kept his eye on Falconers low crack from the right wing and diverted it wide.

It wasn’t long before Skye fashioned a chance of their own though, Murchison was pulled back on the edge of the D and from the resulting free hit he slid the ball into Ross MacKinnon whose backhand strike was well saved by McGregor. Still, the battle between Falconer and Henderson raged on at the other end of the pitch, another low drive from the Kingussie forward was dealt with, this time with a combination of limbs; feet first, then pushed behind for another corner. That proved to be the last chance of the half and, for the teams, a chance to get some time out of the beating sun.

The 2nd half started with some more problematic news for Skye as their Captain John Gillies was forced off with a head knock. During the treatment Kingussie introduced 2022 Grand Slam winning Captain, Savio Genini and he almost had an instant impact with a well hit low shot that Henderson had to stop with his feet and then again from Alexander Michie on the rebound.

The majority of the rest of the half was played in the middle of the park with few incidents to get the crowd going, however, there was always that feeling that it could only take one chance from Skye and it would be game on. Kingussie however, didn’t allow a chance and in typical fashion they kept the pressure on. Henderson producing another flourish of saves in the last 5 minutes to keep it 1-0.

Alas, as Martin MacLean brough the game to a close it was disappointment for Skye who made a good account of themselves but failed to create enough opportunities to truly trouble the holders. For Kingussie, the first of their 4 trophies from 2022 was retained and for James Falconer another heroic moment in a final. It was Falconer himself who who was presented with the trophy from sponsors as Captain, while his team mate McGregor was awarded the Tom MacKenzie medal for Man of the Match.

The Camanachd Association would like to thank everyone who turned out to make the final such a special occasion. A major shinty final will be returning to Bught Park in September as Inverness hosts the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final on 16/08. You can get your tickets at a 33% discount until the end of July. See below for details of how to purchase tickets…

To buy tickets for this event please visit our events page: 2023 Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final tickets from Skiddle .

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