BEAULY stunned favourites Lovat in the annual New Year challenge, winning 3-1 to lift the Lovat Cup for the second time in three years.
This is a result that will undoubtedly provide Roger Cormack’s men with a superb morale-booster as they prepare to mount a serious challenge for the National Division title in the season ahead.
With last year’s top two, Fort William and Oban Camanachd, both gaining promotion to a restored 10-team Premiership, Beauly along with Kilmallie will be regarded as two of the most likely candidates for promotion.
This triumph over their local rivals, who are in many people’s opinion the second best team in the sport at present behind Newtonmore, could be the launch pad in their quest for a major honour after decades with little to show for their efforts.
To pay tribute to those from the local area who lost their lives one hundred years ago at the battle of Festubert during the First World War, piper Duncan MacGillivray led the players onto the field.
One of the tunes played was Beauly Shinty Club, composed by former player Donald Paterson.
Sadly, Donald Paterson and his brother Alastair Paterson, who was Beauly captain when they won the Camanachd Cup in 1913, were amongst those who lost their lives during the Great War.
Conditions at Braeview Park for the 111th Lovat Cup were wintry on Friday with driving wind and hail making matters far from ideal for players whilst on the sidelines, hardened shinty followers braved it out.
Lovat got off to a fine start when Duncan Davidson netted after only six minutes, however Calum Morrison levelled in the 25th minute, chipping the ball over Lovat keeper Stuart MacDonald.
The home crowd were given further cause for cheer in the 39th minute when Jack MacDonald rifled the ball home after being set up by Marc MacLachlan.
The game remained delicately poised for the entire second half with an equaliser being enough for Lovat, as holders, to retain the trophy.
However Conor Ross’ close range half volley in the closing minutes put a drawn outcome beyond Allan MacRae’s men and ensured green and white ribbons were draped around the silverware.
Referee Deek Cameron brought an abrupt end to proceedings after an altercation broke out which resulted in a number of players from both teams becoming involved.
After the fuss had died down, Beauly skipper and Scotland international Conor Cormack stepped up to receive the Lovat Cup to spark off a night of celebration in the Aird village.
The Camanachd Association’s search for a club to replace Bute in the National Division continues after Strathglass became the second team to turn the opportunity down.
Its chief operating officer Torquil MacLeod recently indicated that ideally the replacement would be a South area team with the highest placed eligible team, Oban Celtic, who finished third in last year’s South Division One being given first refusal.
Celtic declined with the opportunity then passed to the highest placed eligible team in North Division One. Strathglass, who finished third in that league responded on Tuesday also declining the invitation.
The Cannich club felt that such a move at this time would not be in its best interest due to it undergoing a period of rebuilding with a strong focus on youth.
Going by finish positions of eligible teams (ie non-reserve teams) in last season’s South and North Divisions One, the list of possible replacements is as follows: Aberdour, Strachur, Taynuilt, Kilmory and Inverness.
It is not inconceivable that all four South area teams will pass up on the opportunity which would pave the way for Inverness, the only other eligible North Division One side, and who finished in bottom place in 2014, to be playing in the National Division this forthcoming season.