Kyles Athletic hope that their Scottish Sea Farms Celtic Society Cup triumph can persuade injury-jinxed Thomas Whyte to ditch retiral plans and help a new-look Tighnabruaich team back to national honours.
Their penalty shootout success over Oban Camanachd at Taynuilt, after a 1-1 draw, put Kyles ribbons on the trophy for a record 35th time but it was the club’s first silverware in four years.
The 30-year-old Whyte, who missed the final through injury, said: “I’ve had 17 broken bones playing for Kyles, so I decided it was all over. But seeing them win the cup, and the way things are progressing, means I’ll now take time to reflect on my future.”
Manager Robert Baxter said: “I’ll be working all winter on Thomas to keep going and I’m certainly more hopeful now. This trophy is the tonic the club has badly needed and comes despite a season of horrendous injuries.
“But young players have come in and held their own and we’ll have squad of 20 lads, plus a couple of new recruits in the pipeline, ready to use this as the launchpad to start chasing the game’s leading trophies again.”
Baxter caused a stir when, after 15 years as a referee, he quit to become Kyles manager this spring, but his infectious enthusiasm has rubbed off on the Blues.
He said: “I’m ecstatic for the players at ending their trophy famine.
“They gave total commitment on the wet, heavy pitch and held their nerve in the shootout. We’ll start pre-season training earlier and have a real go at earning more success.”
Athletic had the best of the first half and Conor Kennedy pulled the ball down superbly to send Roddy Macdonald clear to strike a fine 35th minute goal. But Malcolm Clark evaded his marker to fire Oban level seven minutes later.
Oban had the best of the second 45 but could not turn pressure into goals, with keeper John Whyte and his defence defiant. Donald Irvine at half back and Ross MacRae in the centre were outstanding for Kyles.
Daniel MacVicar and Andrew MacCuish missed for Oban in the shootout while Luke Thornton missed for Kyles but MacDonald slotted the winning spot hit. Oban, brimful of promise in the 2019 season, finish the campaign empty handed but determined to regroup.
Kingussie reach final in style
Kingussie are through to face Kinlochshiel in the Cottages.Com MacTavish Cup final.
They went behind to Fort William through Lachie Shaw’s eighth minute strike but stormed back to win 7-1 at An Aird. Dylan Borthwick and James Falconer put them ahead by the interval and Kings cut loose with Falconer getting his second plus doubles for Ruaridh Anderson and Roddy Young.
Incredible comeback from Lovat
Lovat’s second team lifted the Strathdearn Cup after a truly remarkable rally. The final was goalless after 90 minutes then in extra time Newtonmore led 4-0 with Tristan Ross netting in 94 and 98 minutes, Sorley Thomson in 97 and Brodie MacBean in 101.
But then came the colossal Kiltarlity comeback with Cammy Macmillan scoring in 110 and 114 minutes and Jamie Matheson in 111 and a penalty in 117 to make it 4-4. On to penalties and Raymond Rennie hit home to give Lovat a 3-2 shootout victory.
In the Mod Cup match, Inverness, who counted through Steven Bellshaw and Ruaridh Hughes, drew 2-2 with Strathglass, for whom Penri Jones struck twice. Inverness won the penalty decider 2-1.