KILMALLIE caused the biggest upset of the shinty season so far by defeating pre-match favourites Kyles Athletic 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup.

Premiership side Kyles had hoped to bounce back from their Glasgow Celtic Society Cup final loss, but found Kilmallie – who currently top shinty’s Marine Harvest National Division – too hard a nut to crack especially at their own tight Canal Park, in Caol.

Kyles were missing some top players – notably the injured Roddy Macdonald and defender Andrew King suspended after his red card in the recent final – but Kilmallie were also without key members of their team.

Manager Mark MacPherson, who had to convince veteran reserve team manager Kevin Toye to deputise in goals for the absent Shane Gillies, was ecstatic about the outcome. “That’s a massive result for Kilmallie,” he said. “After the tragedy we suffered last season [the death of the club’s international forward Duncan Rodger] the boys came together and worked hard and I can’t fault their attitude.

“It’s on days like this we get our reward. Now I can’t stop myself thinking that we can go on and win this thing.”

Kilmallie’s afternoon got off to the best possible start when, after just three minutes, frontman Liam MacDonald shrugged off marker Donald Irvine and lofted a high ball forward into the “D”.

The Kyles defenders struggled to clear their lines on the rock-hard pitch and were beaten to the strike by Kilmallie youngster Callum MacDougall, who flicked the ball past keeper John Whyte for the opener.

Kilmallie could have added to their tally but strikes from Liam MacDonald and Daniel Stewart both flew wide. At the other end, Kyles had two excellent first-half chances but Ross MacRae shot wide and Sandy MacKenzie fired high with the goal at his mercy.

Kilmallie eventually got a second goal after 41 minutes when a ball played upfield by defender Robbie MacFadyen was picked up in space by Liam MacDonald, who had run deep.

MacDonald had time to turn, line up his strike and fire an unstoppable drive from fully 30 yards past Whyte, who was deceived by a slight deflection off one of his fellow defenders.

The second half initially followed the same pattern with Kilmallie pressing on but a Michael Rodger’s strike was kept out thanks to a fantastic save by Whyte.

Kyles then began to win more of the ball in midfield as they pushed hard to get back into the game but despite manager James Perlich moving Grant Irvine up forward, they found the Kilmallie defence, and in particular full-back, Ian Robertson, too focused to be easily brushed aside.

The Tighnabruaich side did get on the scoresheet after 75 minutes, after Irvine set up Sandy Mackenzie to finish with a well-struck shot from 15 yards.

Kyles seemed to wake up, but Kilmallie were still able to see out the quarter comfortably.

They not only claimed a notable Premiership scalp but also set themselves up for another big Camanachd Cup occasion. Their semi-final opponents will be revealed after today’s draw.

In the two other Camanachd Cup quarter finals played on Saturday, Fort William lost 3-0 at home to Kingussie who scored through Fraser Munro and Ruaraidh Anderson, 2, while Lovat beat Bute 7-0 in Rothesay.

The remaining tie between Kinlochshiel and holders Newtonmore will take place this Saturday.