FOUR second-half goals from Scotland international Roddy Macdonald ultimately ensured Kyles Athletic of a convincing 7-4 win over arch rivals Newtonmore in Saturday’s Artemis Macaulay Cup Final at Oban’s Mossfield Park. It was the 12th time in their history that the Tighnabruaich side has lifted the trophy. But in a season when they have already lost twice –in the Premiership and the Camanachd Cup – to their Badenoch opponents, it was not a victory on which many in the wider shinty community would been willing to bet.

Not that Kyles’ club secretary Mick Atkinson would necessarily agree with that judgement but Mick, who wore the blue Kyles jersey himself back in the day, does concede that in those early season clashes his side were a very different outfit. “In the first game we just didn’t turn up – and in the second, we completely failed to take our chances. We have a very tight squad and have to juggle players about to compete, but on Saturday, with the return of defender Cammie Keith, coach James Perlich was able to move Roddy MacDonald out of half-back – and with Roddy back to his best in a forward role – Kyles are always going to get goals and that’s the way it turned out.”

It wasn’t Roddy but full-forward Colin Macdonald who set Kyles on the road to victory when he opened the scoring in the third minute with a low shot which, on a better day, More keeper Norman Campbell might have kept out.

The conditions underfoot however were uniformly tricky as was proved shortly afterwards when Kyles keeper John Whyte slipped trying to clear his lines leaving Glen Mackintosh with a simple tap-in to equalise. After this set-back Kyles, playing with the wind, quickly restored their lead with Colin Macdonald again on target.

The Argyll-shire side then remained on top for most of the first half but despite sustained pressure were unable to add further goals. They were made to pay dearly for that failing just before the break when , against the run of play, More’s Fraser Mackintosh, picking up a Glen Mackintosh knockback, fired home a fine goal off the underside of the bar to make the half-time score 2-2.

If Kyles were upset by that unfortunate turn of events, it did not show much in their second-half play. A powerful strike from distance shortly after the restart from Sandy Mackenzie, a constant torment to the Newtonmore defence throughout, put them ahead and with the excellent Grant Irvine dictating the play from half-forward, the Roddy Macdonald goal machine finally clicked into action.

His first came in 60 minutes when his Newtonmore marker Michael Russell gave him just enough space to smash in an unstoppable shot from the right, his second – and his sides fifth – after he accepted a cut back from fellow clansman Colin Macdonald to finish from close range.

Though Glen Mackintosh made an attempt to claw More back into the fray with yet another goal for the north side, Macdonald continued to show his class as a striker with two further finishes – and while Mackintosh himself was able to complete his hat-trick with the final goal of this high-scoring game, the margin of Kyles’ victory was never going to be less than comprehensive.

For Newtonmore in the light of next weekend’s Camanachd Cup semi-final with Skye, the frequency with which their backline was breached must act as a wake-up call.

For Kyles, also contenders for a first Marine Harvest Premiership title, the best might yet be to come though current leaders Kinlochshiel, who beat Kilmallie 5-1 on Saturday, will be hard to dislodge.