HOLDERS Newtonmore made it through to yet another Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final but it took a penalty shoot-out to see off semi-final challengers Kilmallie at Fort William on Saturday.

With the game tied 1-1 after extra time and the penalties at one apiece, More’s fate was down to their captain Andy Mackintosh holding his nerve to convert. He did so with aplomb and his side now have the opportunity to win the sport’s top trophy for a record 33rd time.

Afterwards the 26-year-old – man of the match in the 2016 final – confessed to being relieved that his side had finally sealed their involvement in shinty’s big day, scheduled to take place at Oban on September 15.

“In the end it’s a relief to get through,” Mackintosh said. “I actually felt that after we got our goal and settled into the game we would score more. Fair play to Kilmallie, they didn’t let us do that, and in second half we had our backs to the wall. I didn’t feel nervous about the penalty. I just kept my eye on the ball and concentrated on getting a clean strike – funnily enough, it’s the only goal I’ve scored in a first-team jersey.”

Kilmallie, who play a full division below More in shinty’s National League, started the stronger side, with Calum MacDougall and Liam MacDonald causing early problems for the More defence. Keeper Kenny Ross kept out MacDonald with a nice stop but the big front man was also wasteful with two other early chances which he fired over the bar.

Newtonmore manager PJ MacKintosh then switched defender Rory Kennedy to mark MacDonald more tightly and from that point the experienced Badenoch side began to get into their stride. Their rhythm was upset, however, after 18 minutes by an injury to Craig Ritchie which saw half-forward Michael Russell replace him in defence.

His absence up front was missed by his team and Kilmallie centre-back Michael Rodger went on to dominate in that area. Despite that, More did enjoy a spell of pressure but Kilmallie keeper Shane Gillies was alert to the danger, keeping out strikes from Glen Mackintosh and Evan Menzies.

Finally, after 31 minutes, More did hit the target, when half-forward Ewan Fraser got some space away from marker Cam Clark, allowing him to blast an unstoppable drive from distance past Gillies for the opener.

But if the Badenoch fans thought normal goal service was to be resumed, they were to be disappointed. With defenders Stephen Stewart and Robbie MacFadyen playing out of their skins, Kilmallie effectively shackled the More front men. When they began to test the Newtonmore defence more thoroughly in the second period, it was Ross who struggled to keep them at bay.

Eventually his luck ran out, however. After 58 minutes, a long shy from the excellent Jordan MacPhee found MacDougall at the edge of the “D” and he equalised from close range.

There were further chances for Kilmallie in regulation time but they were unable to make them count.

By far the best opportunity to nick a late winner fell to More’s Fraser, who had just Gillies to beat, but the Kilmallie keeper was fast off his line and blocked the striker’ shot.

In the end, although the result was cruel to Kilmallie, it was probably inevitable that Newtonmore, with 32 previous final victories, would ultimately see off their challenge.