KILMALLIE, who knocked Kyles Athletic out of the Camanachd Cup the previous weekend, kept up their winning streak by defeating Glasgow Mid Argyll 3-2 at Fort William’s An Aird Park on Saturday to win the Balliemore Cup for the second time in three years.

Sponsored this year for the first time by Liberty British Aluminium, the Balliemore is shinty’s National Intermediate title, and Kilmallie, who currently top the sport’s National Division, were certainly pre-match favourites. In the event, Glasgow Mid Argyll ran them close, particularly in the latter stages of the second half, and the city side were unfortunate not to be able to take the game into extra time.

Kilmallie looked the stronger side in the opening phase with front men Liam MacDonald and Michael Rodger causing problems for the Glasgow defence with their strong running. However, the Glasgow backline held firm and keeper Robert Dunnings dealt effectively with two attempts by MacDonald, while Rodger fired his best early chance high over the bar.

Experienced Glasgow defender Ewan Murray had to be replaced with John Fraser due to injury and the city side conceded a number of corners as they readjusted.

However, Kilmallie couldn’t capitalise on the situation and soon found themselves defending when an excellent run by Garry Luke forced a corner only for Jamie McFadyen’s resultant goal attempt to go past.

Kilmallie keeper Shane Gillies then had to deal with an awkward ball from distance which skipped up at him off the sun-dried turf.

His team eventually took the lead after 37 minutes through teenager Calum MacDougall, who scored from close range with the rebound after Dunnings did well to block the initial strike from Rodger. Kilmallie ought to have added to their lead but Innes Blackhall fired high while desperate Glasgow defending saw half-back Iain Luke booked for a challenge on Kilmallie captain Liam MacDonald.

This Glasgow side are not short of invention up front and just before the break neat stickwork by front man Garry Luke fed the ball through to Calum McLay and his shot beat Gillies to level the game.

The early part of the second period saw Kilmallie regain the upper hand and they restored their lead, a trifle fortunately, after 55 minutes when Blackhall’s strike deflected off full-back John Don MacKenzie’s stick into the net. Kilmallie scored their third after 64 minutes when Calum MacDougall again knocked home a rebound, this time following a fierce goalbound drive from Liam MacDonald which Dunnings did well to block.

Glasgow Mid Argyll refused to give up and got their reward after 71 minutes when a ball pushed up wide by Brian Slattery was fired in on target from a tight angle by McLay. Gillies blocked but before his defenders could react, Luke fired home to make it 3-2. Mid Argyll but Luke and forward Neil Fraser were unable to convert chances.

In the end it was a relieved Liam MacDonald who was able to collect both the cup and the winning captain’s silver-mounted caman.

Kilmallie’s next big challenge will be on July 28 at the same venue in the semi-finals of the Camanachd Cup. They will face Newtonmore who beat Kinlochshiel 4-2 in the quarter-finals at Balmacara thanks to two goals from Glen MacKintosh and singles from Drew Macdonald and Michael Russell.