LOVAT Shinty Club wrapped up their Marine Harvest Premiership season on Saturday with a fine 2-1 away win against Oban Camanachd at Mossfield Park, a result which took the north club to a third place finish in the table.

The result underlines the new depth of the sport’s top division in that for the first time since the inception of the Premiership in 1996 there is no sign of a Badenoch side in the top three, with Newtonmore and Kingussie being ranked 4th and 5th respectively.

For Lovat player-manager Fraser Gallacher, however, the experience of his first term at the helm of the Kiltarlity club has been a positive one.

He said: “To finish third in the league and make the final of the Camanachd Cup final is an achievement for the club.

“We also contributed four of our top guys to Ronald Ross’s winning Scotland side and we can also take pride in that.

“The result today is especially satisfying since we had to play without defender Calum Cruden and our captain Greg Matheson who were both suspended while Craig Mainland picked up an injury in the international and also missed out.

“It was good to end on a high note but the important thing for the future is to build on what we have done this year.”

As the score might suggest this was always a tight contest.

Oban with the wind at their backs opened the stronger but Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald kept out early strikes from Willie Neilson and Andrew MacCuish to keep them in the game.

At the other end the home side’s teenage goalie Cameron Sutherland, deputising for the experienced Gavin Stobbart, also had good stops from attempts by Marc MacLachlan and Gallacher who had a full ninety minutes shoring up his side’s depleted front line.

Eventually, just before half time, Oban deservedly got their noses in front when a free hit taken out on the right by winger Aiden Macintyre was missed by the Lovat backline, allowing home forward MacCuish a strike from the edge of the “D” which flew high into the net for the opener.

In the second half Oban continued to have the bulk of the pressure but the absence of frontman Daniel Cameron – sitting in the stand with a swollen arm sustained in last week’s shinty/hurling international – did not help Oban and with replacement Garry MacKerrachar well policed by Lovat fullback Drew Howie, they made little impression on the Lovat defence.

Eventually in the 64th minute Lovat were presented with a chance of their own when, with the ball out wide on the right, MacLachlan took a snap shot which was well saved by Sutherland. Lovat wing-forward Lewis Tawse was quickest to react to the loose ball and met the rebound on his back hand, firing it over the rookie keeper for the equaliser.

Most sides would, on the balance of play, at this point have settled for a draw but Lovat had other ideas –though their resulting score had more than a touch of good fortune about it.

Straight after the throw up, Lovat centre Ryan Ferguson won a free hit for an Oban infringement. The long ball forward again found MacLachlan and his shot struck defender Scott MacMillan landing perfectly for Lovat winger Duncan Davidson who rounded the Oban keeper with the ball to seal the game.

Oban pushed hard to secure an equaliser but Lovat keeper Macdonald, following on from his superb display last weekend against the Irish hurlers, kept out MacCuish on two occasions and thwarted Daniel MacVicar on a third to permit his side to end their season with their highest ever placing in the Marine Harvest Premiership.