MacTavish Cup final: History favours Newtonmore against Lochaber

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland
Newtonmore and Glenurquhart players
Newtonmore beat Glenurquhart to reach the final
MacTavish Cup final: Newtonmore v Lochaber
Date: Saturday, 11 June Venue: Bught Park, Inverness Throw-up: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Alba and iPlayer

The first silverware of the shinty season is the prize with Newtonmore tackling Lochaber in Inverness for the prestigious MacTavish Cup.

For those who like a good underdog story, this appears to be one. That said, most sides facing Newtonmore might feel a tad up against it.

They are unquestionably the dominant force in shinty right now, winning six straight Premiership titles.

A seventh is far from beyond them but they did lose last year's MacTavish final to Glenurquhart.

That alone demonstrates in cup finals, there's always hope. Lochaber need that. They don't really win trophies and they've never won this one.

Their solitary final appearance in this competition came in 2012 and, wouldn't you know it, it was a 5-1 defeat against Saturday's opponents.

'It's 12 against 12'

A Lochaber player
Lochaber are very much the underdogs in Saturday's final

Both camps expect a closer contest this time though with Lochaber optimistic that they can upset the odds.

"It's a huge day, a great opportunity to show what we can do," said captain Brian MacDonald.

"The occasion maybe got the better of us [in 2012] but we've got a completely different squad.

"If the park is playing as quick as it looks then we'll be in with a good chance.

"Newtonmore are a very strong team but it's 12 against 12. I've seen lots of things happen in this game and there's no reason why we can't go out and make a game of it.

"We're oozing confidence now. We've recently come on to a very good game scoring nine goals in our last two games against two decent sides in Kingussie and Lovat."

Lochaber admit to a slow start to the season but those two wins are notable form and exactly the kind of preparation required for such a contest.

Favourites 'haven't peaked yet'

The MacTavish Cup
The MacTavish Cup is up for grabs

Newtonmore's last MacTavish Cup win - their 39th - came in that 2012 final. They've not enjoyed much success over recent years in this competition with 2009 and 2002 the only other wins going all the way back to the late 1980s.

They will be keen to address that and remain heavy favourites but that's not something Newtonmore's Rory Kennedy enjoys.

"[It's] not a tag we like but we know we have to be at our very best every week, but especially this Saturday," he said.

"I don't think we've quite hit our peak form yet but we've not been conceding many goals. The guys are obviously putting the ball in the back of the net in the forward line as well.

"If we can win it, it'll put a marker down for the rest for the year for us."

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