NEWTONMORE’S athleticism and greater technical ability eventually won out after a second-half scare, as they lifted the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup at Inverness’s Bught Park.

The men from the Eilan beat Lovat 3-2 in front of an estimated 2500 spectators

to retain the silverware.

In the week leading up to the big match, Newtonmore boss PJ Mackintosh must have had a few sleepless nights as injury and suspension to important players forced him to rejig his defensive line-up.

Midfielder Paul MacArthur was pressed into goals to allow regular custodian Norman Campbell perform as full-back for the day.

However, the return from injury of team captain Rory Kennedy did restore a resemblance of normality to the More backline.

And it was clear from the opening exchanges that Kennedy’s eight-week lay-off had not in any way diminished his ability to keep Lovat’s top scorer Greg Matheson quiet.

From the outset, the Newtonmore attack appeared more menacing, especially when, in the early clashes, veteran front man Glen Mackintosh turned Lovat full-back Drew Howie to fire in a strike that Lovat’s international keeper Stuart MacDonald was alert enough to tip over the bar.

Newtonmore continued to keep a grip on the play, however, and their dominance bore fruit in the 16th minute.

A swift forward move saw the ever-alert Mackintosh slip the ball across into the path of half-forward Neil Stewart, whose drive produced the opening goal of the match.

Two minutes later, More doubled their lead when, with the Lovat defence looking increasingly ragged, centre Jamie Robinson banged home a strike at the second attempt from distance.

Lovat were now toiling to contain the midfield and might have gone further behind. Newtonmore wing-centre David MacLean had the ball in the net for a third time, but his strike was ruled out for an earlier infringement by one of his fellow forwards.

Lovat rallied somewhat in the latter stages of the first half but although half-chances fell to both Matheson and Danny Kelly, neither player could make them count.

The greater physicality and cleaner hitting of the More defenders – especially Campbell and half-back Ackie Macrae – ensured that whatever Lovat pressure was exerted, was never sustained.

The second half looked set to continue in the same pattern until the introduction at full-forward of recent Lovat signing Marc MacLachlan changed the dynamic

of the game.

He quickly began to pose problems for the Newtonmore backs and profited hugely from their confusion in the 64th minute when he touched the ball into the net from close range to put his side back in contention.

Minutes later, Lovat equalised somewhat fortuitously, courtesy of a high dropping ball hit from midfield by Lorne Mackay which Macarthur lost sight of against the low autumn sun.

Newtonmore then did what they always do; they kept on keeping on. Eventually a long ball upfield from MacLean was turned inside by the irrepressible Mackintosh into the path of Evan Menzies and his strike, while not his cleanest of the afternoon,

was the one that ultimately counted.

The final period of this tightly contested affair grew more fraught but the double dismissal of Lovat defender Callum Cruden and More attacker Conor Jones

for a last-minute loss of discipline was a disappointing end to the match for

both sides.

You have to hand it to Newtonmore, though. In a season that seemed by their standards to be going nowhere, they once again wrote their name in shinty’s record books by winning the sport’s most-coveted trophy for a 32nd time.