OBAN Camanachd’s 4-2 victory over Lochaber at Taynuilt on Saturday means that they now meet Newtonmore in the final of the Camanachd Cup at Fort William on September 17.

The result marks a turnaround in the fortunes of an Oban side that struggled to survive in last season’s Marine Harvest premiership.

That improvement is one which delights, but does not surprise Oban manager Ian Hay.

“The backbone of the team is the same as it was last year but we have also introduced younger players like Daniel MacVicar and Ross MacMillan.

“The boys are also fitter now. We now work harder to use the width of the park to move defences about and are trying to consistently play to a system.”

Opponents Lochaber were no pushovers and despite having to take the field without centre Barry Macdonald – he failed a late fitness test – the Spean Bridge side started strongly with internationalist Shaun Nicholson winning a corner in the opening minute.

That danger was cleared and Oban immediately went on the attack with eventual man of the match Andrew MacCuish turning Lochaber defender John Sweeney and forcing young Lochaber keeper Calum Macdonald into a fine save to keep the scores even.

MacCuish hadn’t long to wait to make his mark and in the 8th minute a defender’s deflection from a corner taken by wing centre Scott MacMillan fell kindly for the Oban front man and he smashed the ball home from outside the D.

For a period Oban appeared to be about to add to their lead as they turned up the pressure on the Lochaber defence. Veteran fullback Lachie Campbell kept his focus, scrambling the ball away from MacCuish when he might have scored, while Lochaber keeper Macdonald almost gifted Oban a second goal after a poor hit-out.

Lochaber evened things up on 19 minutes when somewhat against the run of play a long free hit from Shaun Nicholson was cleanly converted by attacker Ben Delaney.

But within a minute MacCuish had restored the Oban lead when his excellent stick skills allowed him to touch the ball past Macdonald from close range.

The game might then have changed had Lochaber managed to equalise on the half-hour when they were awarded a penalty after defender Willie Neilson brought down Neil Macdonald. Ben Delaney’s strike, however, was well saved by keeper Gavin Stobbard.

Both sides continued to push forward for the rest of the half, creating chances at both ends – some of which should have been converted – but there was no further scoring before the break.

The second half was less evenly balanced with Oban, always looking the more accomplished side, soon extending their lead when youngster Daniel MacVicar engineered a neat close finish after a cross-field pass from MacCuish had opened up the Lochaber defence. Oban captain Daniel Cameron then made it 4-1 in 57 minutes beating MacDonald with a bouncing shot at his near post and though Lochaber pulled one back through Delaney soon after, the Spean Bridge side were never able to get back in contention and must now focus for the remainder of their season on securing their Marine Harvest Premier League status for next season.

Meanwhile Oban’s Camanachd Cup final opponents Newtonmore are one step closer to retaining their Premiership title with a 6-0 home win over Fort William.

This defeat ensures Fort William’s relegation from the top league, but with both Skye and Glenurquhart losing away from home to Lovat and Kinlochshiel respectively, the question of which other top tier club will face relegation is still unresolved..

In the remaining Premiership match Kyles Athletic defeated Kingussie 4-2 at the Dell.