They left it late but a piece of individual brilliance from the talented Ruaridh Anderson, just a minute from time, gave Kingussie their 25th Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup success with a 1-0 win over Oban Camanachd at the Bught Park, Inverness.
Oban Camanachd’s Macaulay Cup final victory over Kingussie a month ago gave their team confidence and their supporters hope ahead of shinty’s biggest game of the season.
They created the best chance of the first half when Daniel MacVicar was slipped in towards the left of the D, but an alert Rory McGregor was quickly off his line to save with his legs.
The Oban side dominated for long spells after the restart but couldn’t breach a determined Kingussie backline superbly marshalled by Robert Mabon.
Extra-time seemed inevitable but with 89 minutes on the clock, Kingussie broke forward.
James Falconer saw his shot blocked and with Calum MacKintosh going for the rebound, Ruaridh Anderson took charge as he made a run from right to left before taking a touch and unleashing a searing shot on his left side which rose by a diving Cammy Sutherland, just inside the keeper’s left post.
It was as good a goal as any from the preceding 114 Camanachd Cup finals and it meant Kingussie retained the famous trophy for the first time since 2003.
Referee Des McNulty was in control throughout, and his final whistle triggered joyous scenes on the Kingussie touchline.
Oban Camanachd captain Daniel Sloss enhanced his reputation as one of shinty’s finest young players with a commanding performance in defence which earned him the coveted Albert Smith Medal as man of the match, presented by Rena Smith from the family.
Kingussie captain James Falconer, a doubt before the game but who recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury to make a significant his contribution from the substitutes’ bench, raised the famous trophy aloft in a moment he will never forget.
An elated Kingussie boss Iain Borthwick said: “I honestly didn’t think the goal was going to come and I thought we were heading for extra-time.
“We were under pressure for periods, especially in the second half, but the boys at the back defended so well.
“They took a bit of criticism with the goals we lost during the Macaulay final defeat, so I’m really pleased to see them work so hard to keep a clean sheet today.
“That includes keeper Rory McGregor as any time Oban got through our defence, he was there to sweep the ball to safety and get us out of trouble.
“As we moved into the closing stages, I knew that if we could just get a chance on goal, we would take it and it was a great finish from Ruaridh. I’m just ecstatic.”
Captain James Falconer collected the original Camanachd Cup for the final time before it is replaced by a replica, and the captain’s silver mounted caman.
He said: “We said beforehand that it was important to play to the final whistle, as we have done in recent weeks, and that’s just what we did. We soaked up a lot of pressure but also used our fitness to our advantage.”
Match-winner Ruaridh Anderson made the difference and he added: “We knew it would be tough as Oban Camanachd are a good side and they were unlucky as they had chances.
“I can’t describe how this feels though. It’s unbelievable. It doesn’t feel real.”
A disappointed Oban Camanachd manager Gareth Evans said: “I didn’t think we were at our best, but I felt we still did enough to win the game.
“Fair play to Kingussie though, they took their chance, and it was a goal worthy of winning any final.”
Oban Camanachd skipper Daniel Sloss said: “It is all about small margins at this level and unfortunately it went against us today.
“We’ll regroup though and we’ll be ready to go again next season and we’ll hopefully be back here again.”
Earlier in the day, Newtonmore under-14 turned in a stunning performance to beat Skye Camanachd under-14 13-1 to lift the MacMaster Cup.
Joe Coyle stole the show, scoring seven times with his brother James Coyle getting four goals. Fergus Gilligan got the other two, all after Seth MacDonald had put holders Skye ahead in the opening minute.