THE women’s game was the main attraction in shinty this weekend with the Valerie Fraser Camanachd Cup final taking place at Kingussie.

Holders Skye were eventually beaten 4-1 by their less fancied opponents Badenoch & Strathspey. This was a tight encounter between two well matched sides and it was not until the last 10 minutes of the match that some excellent finishing by the Badenoch forwards finally clinched the trophy, sponsored by Marine Harvest, for manager Scott Campbell’s side.

Campbell, a veteran of the men’s game with Newtonmore, was under no illusions as to how tight the match was. “We are absolutely delighted to have managed to come out on top. Skye were always dangerous and when the teams were tied level, going into the closing stages I must confess the nerves were there. However we had some big performances from our players and I think we got the right result in the end.”

In fact it was the more experienced Skye side who made the better start in the opening five minutes but once the Badenoch nerves had settled, the midfield trio of Rhona Macintyre and sisters Mairi and Rona Stewart began to supply enough forward ball to exert pressure on the Islander’s defence.

Indeed but for some excellent work by Skye goal keeper Sara-Jane Ferguson, who twice kept out attempts by full-forward Kirsty Deans and another by Rhona Macintyre, Badenoch might have gone ahead sooner. But in the 29th minute Deans got her name on the scoresheet when she picked up a pass out on the left from Badenoch captain Mairi Stewart.

She twisted to create space and fired a fierce shot from distance past Ferguson for the opener. Badenoch should probably closed out the game but the Skye defence held firm – and from that point their forwards, in particular Sarah Corrigall and Lorna Macrae began to create more scoring chances

Skye kept up the pace after the break but found Badenoch keeper Betty McGregor hard to beat until the 55th minute. After Corrigall brought the ball forward from deep, Lorna Macrae capitalised on a slip by Badenoch’s Jeanette McGregor to equalise with a driven shot from just outside the D.

The match then became a classic contest with chances at both ends. But in the 71st minute it took a decisive turn in favour of Badenoch with Zoe Reid following up an initial attack instigated by Deans to knock the ball home from close range.

At this stage Badenoch manager Scott Campbell switched around his frontline formation, pushing Macintyre forward from the middle and placing Deans, who was later to be chosen as player of the match, right up on the “D”. It was a risky strategy but as Skye struggled to get an equaliser they left themselves exposed at the back, conceding two late goals to strikes by Rhona Macintyre and Zoe Reid.

With the Women’s Camanachd Cup safely in shinty’s Badenoch heartland, the pressure is now fully on their male counterparts from Newtonmore to match that achievement.

Earlier in the afternoon Glenurquhart defeated Inverness 4-3 to lift the Marine Harvest Challenge Cup for the first time. Teenager Abby Stoddart was the hero for Glenurquhart. She hit three of her side’s goals – all of them in the first half. She was matched by Inverness’s Katie Macmillan who also grabbed a hat-trick. Glenurquhart’s decisive strike came from Hazel Hunter’s 50th minute penalty.