Kingussie win first Camanachd Cup in eight years
After losing out by single goals on the same Bught Park venue in 2010 and 2011, yesterday must have felt like their penance was over.
“What can I say, the best day of my life” was the view of 17-year-old Savio Genini, who struck twice in front of 5,000 fans.
And with the other goals coming from Ronald Ross, aged 39, Kingussie’s success spanned the generations.
If hunger could be evaluated by the fervour of the respective fans, Glen’s supporters seemed up for the carnival before the Scottish Hydro-sponsored match, if not at the end. They came from the Great Glen in swathes, waving red and black chequered flags.
In the opening exchanges, their team’s energy seemed to match their followers’ enthusiasm.
Craig Dawson in the Kings goal was certainly busier, with most of the activity focused around his goal area. Oil worker Andrew Corrigan, however, gave them concern when he crumpled to the turf in seven minutes and Ali Mackintosh, who has not played for months due to a knee injury, suddenly found his comeback was the Camanachd Cup final.
Kingussie soon began to establish traction and the first tangible effort of the match came in 11 minutes when Thomas Borthwick managed to round his marker and send a shot sailing over the bar.
Glen Urquhart were unable to check the runs of Genini, and the trainee gamekeeper netted in the 21st minute when Ross found his run with a deft, perfectly weighted pass.
It was slick and it was the hallmark of a player beginning to take games by the scruff.
On the half-hour mark, Glen’s James Macpherson was left holding his head in his hands after poor stick control in the danger area saw him miss an easy chance and Fraser Heath came close just minutes later – only serving to make Kingussie’s sucker-punch more galling when it came.
With 39 minutes gone, some eye-catching interplay between Genini and Fraser Munro culminated in a pass to Ross. He may be a year off 40 but, as one defender arrived, he flicked it past him and ran round the other side. With the ball breaking a few yards, he still had it all to do but he managed to nudge the second marker off the ball before dispatching the ball into the net with little fuss.
It was almost robotic in its perfection and who could have denied him his moment as he wheeled away to take the applause of the blue, red and white hordes behind Stuart Mackintosh’s goal?
Billy MacLean and David Menzies needed a reaction from their Glen charges.
When the match re-started after the break, though, it was still Kingussie pressing their case.
Borthwick tested Mackintosh with a snapshot following free hit.
Heath and Macpherson both forced blocks from Kings keeper Dawson in 52 minutes, though, and the Glen flags were unfurled again in readiness for a rallying effort.
There was certainly a growing sense amongst the players that it was now or never if their hopes for a maiden victory in this competition were to be realised.
In 68 minutes, the dream fell apart. Kingussie’s mobility up front again caused the Glen defence, normally so miserly, major problems.
Kingussie High School pupil James Falconer, still only 16, rampaged through the Glen defence like a veteran.
Few players seemed ready to commit themselves against the diminutive forward and, when the ball broke out, Genini capped a memorable day with a low counter into the net.
The massed Badenoch fans behind the goal lapped it up. Indeed, their offensive play, at times, was redolent of days of old.
There was a touch of fortune with the way the ball managed to ooze through to Ross, deep into the box, with seven minutes remaining.
However, such gifts are gratefully received and he put Kingussie out of sight with the fourth before collecting the Albert Smith man of the match medal.