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Scoring in shinty final win was overwhelming

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Gary Innes | 16:01 UK time, Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Well, where do I start?

The 103rd Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup final took place on Saturday - live on BBC - in front of 4,000 die-hard shinty fans in Inverness.

Cup-holders Fort William met their old rivals Kingussie, which was too close to call before this match.

This was Fort William's eighth consecutive Camanachd Cup final, so most Fort players knew what to expect; even on the eighth year, nerves don't seem to ease.

This, however, was goal keeper Paul (Felix) MacKay's first senior final, which didn't seem to faze the 19-year-old.

Kingussie, on the other hand, had at least four players who had never experienced a Camanachd Final, which to many is regarded as the biggest day in a shinty player's career.

From the throw up, captain Niall MacPhee won the ball, which was pushed forward and landed on the end of my stick.

My shot just went wide. Had this gone in it would've put the frighteners up Deek Cameron, who scored the fastest-ever recorded goal in nine seconds, in the 1992 Camanachd Cup Final, against Kingussie.

However, this wasn't to be.

Fifteen minutes into the match, Gordy MacKinnon found me from a resulting free hit.

I managed to control the ball and beat keeper Andrew Bothwick on his left-hand side to put Fort William ahead.

Brian (Boob) Simpson was next on the scoresheet for Fort, showing fantastic control before slipping the ball beyond Bothwick, to increase our lead to 2-0.

This was a great finish from a man who just got his hand out of plaster 10 days earlier.

Fort William tactically sacrificed John MacDonald in the middle of the field, to mark two players.

His job, to mark Kingussie's wing centre and wing forward, left Addie Robertson free to double up on Ronald Ross, alongside Liam MacIntyre.

For the first 35 minutes this worked a treat. However, Kingussie started to find space with their extra man in midfield.

And Ronald Ross managed to pull one back for Kings before half-time, after a beautiful touch slipped past MacKay into the Fort net.

After half-time Kingussie looked dominant and completely exploited Fort's first half tactics.

Time and again the Fort defence was stretched to the limits, and only outstanding goalkeeping and defending kept them at bay.

Inevitably, Ronald Ross found some space and picked out 16-year-old Thomas Bothwick, who stroked home a beautiful goal to level the scores and send Bught Parks into a frenzy.

It looked as though it was all set for extra-time, until, against the run of play, John MacDonald's corner found myself at the front post and I fired home Fort's winner in the 89th minute.

This was a Roy of the Rover's-style ending to Shinty's most-prized trophy, and that goal sealed the Albert Smith medal for Man of the Match for myself, which I was overwhelmed to receive.

I wore the medal around my neck all evening like the mayor of the world and didn't take it off until I went to bed.

After the game, my Mum pleaded with me to give it to her after I lost it in 2005, but that's a different story.

The bus journey back down the road was one of jubilation and triumph, where we sang songs until we were hoarse.

We were met off the bus by a packed Fort William clubhouse, who all spilled out to give us a hero's welcome.

After midnight it was skipper Niall MacPhee's birthday to add to the already swinging celebrations, and I can tell you it continued long into the wee small hours.

In fact, some players are still posted missing from their wives.

The final was certainly a game of two halves; Fort William controlled the first, and Kingussie dominated the second.

Had it gone to extra-time who knows what the score would have been? Some say we got out of jail free in the second half, and I'm not sure I'd disagree.

However, the Camanachd Cup is back sitting proudly in the An Aird club house again, and new boss Peter MacIntyre is extremely happy about that.

In the Premier League, Kingussie meet Fort William again this week, in Fort's second last game of the season.

Fort William need to take just one point from King's to keep their title hopes alive. If Kingussie beat Fort William, Fort would need to win 7-0 against Newtonmore to win the league.

This, of course, is unthinkable. Therefore, the pressure is still on the boys to take something from Kingussie this weekend.

Can Fort William beat Kingussie two weeks running?

Kyles Athletic host Inveraray at Tighnabruich in a game where both clubs have the opportunity to introduce new players, and look ahead to next season.

Oban Camanachd must take both points from relegated Glasgow Mid Argyll, to retain hope of staying in the top flight.

Oban have not won a game since 17 April and would dearly love both points from this fixture.

In North Division 1, Kilmallie host Lochaber in a winner-takes-all match for Premier promotion.

Both clubs have a huge local support, and this will draw a monster crowd to the Canal Parks.

My brother Hughie Innes, for Lochaber, will be directly up against our uncle, Lachie Innes, the Kilmallie coach, in again another battle of the Innes family shinty loyalties.

Lachie is definitely one up after Kilmallie beat Fort William in the MacTavish semi-final already this year.

Will he make it two on Saturday? If he does he's definitely not getting a Christmas present from us this year, that's for sure.

Another huge weekend for shinty fans to look forward to. Safe travels for all players and supporters alike.


  • Comment number 1.

    I enjoy your blog as it gives an insight into your thoughts on shinty along with the little stories. In Your blogs you often asks questions and sometimes you write things that others would like you to expand on. Please, please answer some of our questions. It seems to me that these last few years that there has been some remarkable finals( caman 07,08,09,10 MacTavish 09,10 Baliemore etc.etc) and the leagues (Premier, ND1) are going all the way to the last game.. Gary is this because there is little gap between the teams now or are teams better prepared by coaches(mentally) to never give in. The spread of the spoils is good (isn't it)e.g. Kinlochsheil (Baliemore), Lochaber or Kilmallie (ND1), Kingussie( MacAuley), Fortw ( Camanachd) Newtonmore or Fortw (Premiere league)It's not very often we see this ? p.s. Don't Lochaber have home advantage versus Kilmallie

  • Comment number 2.

    Congratulations to the Kinlochshiel and Skye under 14 teams who won the Ken MacMaster and Development Cup finals prior to the Camanachd Cup. Pity there hasn't been more about this, not a mention on the BBC coverage on the day, despite the Shiel game being filmed. Youth shinty is the future of the game after all.

  • Comment number 3.

    congratulations on winning the cup mr innes, although I'm sure you will be first to admit that kingussie will be a force still for years to come. I'd say that I hope we got revenge this Saturday but then that might mean THEY! would win the league!

    I know that the weather doesn't help but having the Camanachd Cup as the end of season finale is brilliant. I quite like the international but it's a disgrace how few Kingussie or South players are in the squad.

    Also can you shed any light Gary as to why there is going to be a second international in the middle of November when their is no chance of anyone going to watch it and the TV are not going to cover it? Surely playing at the Bught in the middle of Winter after playing to 80000 at Corke Park will be a big let down? What a waste of money!

    Invest the money in grassroots shinty - Kincraig folded down here last year and there needs to be something down, not jollies for Duncan Cameron, Richard Gall and Donald Stewart and their cronies in Fawlty Towers.

  • Comment number 4.

    Houston, what a sad attitude to have that you would want your own team to lose a game because you are worried your rivals might win the league.
    I can tell you for certain, if it was the other way round "THEY" would be looking to win their game and finish as high up the league table as possible, even more so if the fort had just stuffed them in the scottish.

    The international line up is a good one I think apart from a couple of players (one especially) that haven't even really been playing week in week out for their club.

    I agree that having the 2nd international is a waste of resources that could be better spent else where.

  • Comment number 5.

    Firstly I apologise for not replying more often when it is myself that posses the questions. When I write the weekly blog on a Sunday, quite often I don’t get near a computer again throughout the week to reply. When I started nobody really commented on the posts, so it is lovely to read people are now taking an interest.
    To answer your question numbereight.
    I think it is fantastic for Shinty to have such a variety of winners throughout the competitions, and can only be good for the sport and their respected comunities. For me, this is down to a lot of hard work and effort from key individuals to try and raise the bar for their club. Shinty is fast becoming a very tactical sport, and key players from certain clubs are now getting extra attention during a game, to try and stiffle them out. This for me has been a huge part in the change of shinty, and maybe why each final has been so close of late, often won by a late goal with maybe tiredness playing a part.
    I also think because more finals are getting televised, this can be an extra insentive for players and coaches alike to suceed.
    You are correct, Lochaber are playing against Kilmallie at Spean Bridge this weekend. When I was writing this weeks blog, sorry my head was still in a different place ☺
    I completely agree with what you are saying. Youth Shinty is the future of the game, and should be aknowledged. Well done to Kinlochshiel and Skye under 14’s for their wins at the weekend. There were some great touches and goals that I saw, and I’m sure the youngsters party would of rivaled the Forts later on.

    Regarding the International, we could discuss this topic all day. All clubs are asked to put forward the players they think are performing well for them. The manager (Drew MacNeil) also asks players he believes are performing throughout the season to attend one of two training days. If that player does not want to attend, or does not get in touch with the manager, then they will not be considered for International selection. Do you know how many Kingussie players between the two selection days tried out?
    I am still none the wiser to wether the November home International will take place either I’m afraid. A home and away fixture is something that has been discussed time and time again over the years. I don’t think it will be well attended, but until the Camanachd try it, they will never know if it can work or not.

    As soon as I find out I will let you all know.

  • Comment number 6.

    Firstly, Congratulations to Gary and Fortwilliam. I would like it to be noted that the Houston Old comments did not come from Dallas Young as some may associate me with the Houston Old name. So in regards to the comments made under that name please distance them from me! They are not views held by me. Good luck to Fortwilliam and Newtonmore in their battle for the league title and my only wish is that Kingussie beat Fortwilliam on Saturday to leave the final game winner take all! Cheers Dallas Young.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would also like to state I am not Dallas Young - I am the dog which played Wee Jock and Robert Carlyle and Neily Ach won't return my calls.

  • Comment number 8.

    re international selection: The Camanachd web site has a page under heading "participants" then click onto "representative shinty" and it has all the information on who was invited to training. As I understand it there was 70+ nominated senior players from the clubs. The U21's info is also there. It's all very transparent for everyone...

  • Comment number 9.

    Just a wee update. The return home International set for Nov 13th at the Bught Parks was confirmed to all players at Scotland training yesterday.

    Gary :)


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