GLENURQUHART won the first of this season’s major shinty trophies when they beat pre-match favourites Newtonmore to lift the RBS MacTavish Cup for the first time in the Loch Ness-side club’s 130-year history.

For the Glen, who have fallen at the final hurdle in this competition for the last two seasons in a row, it was success at the third time of asking, and the significance of the victory wasn’t lost on manager Billy Maclean, whose family connections with the sport go back to the very foundation of the club back in 1885.

He said: “After the disappointments of defeats in our last two finals to finally bring the MacTavish back to the Glen is a marvellous achievement. What makes the victory sweeter is that we had to beat Newtonmore, a team which in my opinion is the best side in the game today. They are reigning Premier League champions and have been dominating the division so far — to win against them and play good shinty while doing so makes it a special day.”

From the outset it was clear that Glenurquhart had learned the lessons of two earlier defeats to Newtonmore by setting out to deny their opponents’ powerful midfield space and possession. This cut down the supply of balls up to the usually deadly ‘More forwards and the Premier League’s top scorer Glen Mackintosh never quite managed to get going.

At the other end, Glenurquhart forced several corners and almost took the lead when a strike from wing centre Conor Golabek was pushed on to the post by ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie.

At the 20-minute mark, Newtonmore lost full centre Jamie Robinson. Frustrated by the close attentions of opposite number Ally Mackintosh he lashed out with his caman and received an immediate red card from referee Evan Macrae. Before Newtonmore had time to adjust, Glenurquhart took the lead when full forward Fraser Heath found himself free at the back post and smashed the ball high into the net for the opener. Glenurquhart should have added further goals before the break but excellent covering by international full back Norman Campbell and some frantic work by his fellow defenders kept the Glen out and the sides went in at half time with the Glen holding a slender 1-0 lead.

Newtonmore upped the tempo after the break but with their centreline blocked out, much of their penetration came from long balls fired up from defender Stevie Macdonald, which were dealt with reasonably comfortably by a Glen defence, in which full back Lewis Maclennan was outstanding.

At the other end Glenurquhart were playing neat inter-passing shinty but after a series of missed chances and a goal by Heath ruled offside it was beginning to look like they would have to settle for a single-goal victory. That all changed in the 69th minute when a snap shot by Glen captain Andy Corrigan came back off ‘More keeper Ritchie and Ewan Brady was on hand to push it home from close range.

Newtonmore midfielder Paul MacArthur immediately got one back when he fired home from 25 yards to throw his side a lifeline but the Glen had their tails up and when Neale Reid smashed home a third for Glenurquhart in the 72nd minute there was no doubt that the cup was finally bound for Loch Ness-side rather than its more fancied Badenoch destination.

The day wasn’t all gloom for the losers though, as rivals Lovat lost 2-0 at home to Kinlochshiel and thereby passed up an opportunity to go equal with ‘More at the top of the Marine Harvest Premiership.

Elsewhere, Fort William went third after a 1-0 win away at Inveraray while Lochaber and Kingussie shared the points after a battling goalless draw at Spean Bridge.