NEWTONMORE defeated Skye 4-1 at Inverness’s Bught Park on Saturday in the second of this season’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup semi-finals and will now face Lovat in the final at the same venue on September 30.

Despite the scoreline however, this was no straightforward victory for the holders of shinty’s most prestigious trophy.

Underdogs Skye had the better of the contest right up to the final 20 minutes of the match, when excellent finishing from the Newtonmore forwards eventually destroyed the Islanders’ chances of a final appearance.

It could all have been so different however if Skye frontman James Pringle had shown more composure in the 2nd minute when having been presented with the game’s first clear chance he struck his shot wide.

It was a let-off for Newtonmore and before long they made Skye pay dearly for the miss when in their first attack of the match Glen Mackintosh put his side in the lead A long free hit taken by wing centre David MacLean sought out Mackintosh who had come off the “D” to evade marker Ali MacDonald. The veteran striker – still ‘More’s most prolific goal scorer at the age of 38 – quickly turned and struck a high angled shot past Skye keeper Iain MacLeod for the opener.

Skye refused to capitulate coming back to enjoy a more-than-even share of the possession in the first half with centreman Kenny Campbell and defender John Gillies in particular showing up well.

Goals however were hard to come by for both sides until just after the start of the second period; some nice work by Skye’s Jordan Murchison set up Pringle and his quick turn and strike from 20 yards brought the islanders level.

Sensing a problem with his backline, manager PJ Mackintosh was quick to take remedial action bringing full centre Michael Russell back to mark Skye’s Will Cowie.

Cowie had started the match on the bench, having just flown home the day before from the USA, and his pacey presence on the field was almost to prove decisive but his net-bound strike on 69 minutes was blocked by his marker Russell in a last ditch effort.

That stop was to prove decisive since within a minute a long free hit up field by full-back Steven MacDonald was moved on by wing-centre Paul MacArthur to Mackintosh and his deadly finishing saw Newtonmore move into a 2-1 lead with 20 minutes to go.

The momentum was now firmly with the holders and before long they had tightened their grip on the game.

Craig Ritchie exchanged passes with Jamie Robinson to knock in Newtonmore’s third, with Robinson himself on hand to apply the finishing touches to his team’s afternoon’s work when he brought up goal number four with a close-range finish after 83 minutes.

After last weekend’s difficult experience in Oban where they lost 7-4 to Kyles Athletic in the Macaulay Cup final, Newtonmore have proved once again they have the character to bounce back from defeat. The manner of their victory over Skye however will give opponents Lovat plenty of reasons to believe that they too can achieve Camanachd Cup glory.

As if to underline that fact, Fraser Gallacher’s side travelled to Spean Bridge where they beat home side Lochaber 5-2 in the Marine Harvest Premiership thanks to two goals each from Greg Matheson and Mark Maclachlan. Lewis Tawse was the other Lovat scorer while Stuart Matheson scored twice for Lochaber.

Meanwhile Kyles Athletic move to the top of the Premiership on goal difference over Kinlochshiel, after beating Kingussie 6-3 away, whilst Kilmallie’s 4-1 loss at Oban means that they still remain in relegation trouble.