Camanachd Cup final: Newtonmore & Lovat in shinty showpiece

Newtonmore were too strong for Skye
Newtonmore beat Skye to reach the Camanachd Cup final

Newtonmore defend shinty's Camanachd Cup on Saturday in Inverness.

A glance at their achievements this decade would suggest they are strong favourites to retain the trophy by beating 2015 winners Lovat.

The Badenoch club have won the Camanachd Cup on 31 occasions - more than any other team, with three of those wins since 2010.

Indeed, 'More have also won the Marine Harvest Premier League in each of the past seven seasons.

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Shinty: Newtonmore runs in the family for the MacRaes

However, that title winning run will come to an end this year. A series of defeats means they will relinquish the league championship, most likely to Kinlochshiel.

So is their dominance of the sport about to come to an end?

Not according to Danny MacRae, the man who scored a hat-trick in the 2011 Camanachd Cup final win over arch rivals Kingussie.

"This year in the league it's just come down to too many injuries and too many key players out at the same time," he said. "But then you also have the other teams getting better at the same time."

MacRae's captain Rory Kennedy added: "We have a couple of injury and suspension concerns and it's not nice that these guys have to miss out, but we have other players who can come in and do a job."

One of those injured players is goalkeeper Owen Fraser. His absence means outfield player Norman Campbell has played in goal in recent weeks.

"We had an issue earlier in the season so Norman was asked to step back and he's done that and he's done well," Kennedy said.

"[Lovat] have a fluent forward line and are lethal in front of goal. So we need to stay tight to them, keep an eye on their movement and just play like we normally play.

Lovat left it late to find the winning goal against Oban Camanachd
Lovat left it late to beat semi-final opponents Oban Camanachd

"They have a very good goalie and a very good defence this year too so they are difficult to break down, but we have some very good players who can do that."

In contrast Lovat are at full strength - and in fine form.

"Everyone is really confident," says Lovat captain Greg Matheson. "It makes a difference going into games when you're winning.

"Everyone's fit as well, which makes a big difference too. At the start of the season we had a lot of injuries and we struggled a bit but now the final couldn't come at a better time for us.

"We have definitely got what it takes to win the trophy, we won the trophy two years ago and that will give us a boost too.

"It won't be a surprise to us, but Newtonmore are still a brilliant side and we have to stop them dominating the midfield and limit the amount of ball they get up to their forward line."