Tina Marshall is a Shinty Photographer, player and avid fan, her blogging and pictures do a lot to help promote our game.
Here she gives her insight into the 2012 Camanachd final from a neutral point of view.

So, Mick has asked me to do a wee blog for your website, to try and sum up the 2012 Camanachd Final from a Neutral Shinty Fan point of view.
I will be honest, the thought of an all south final filled me with dread… yes I am one of those god awful Northerners who think that South shinty is of a lower standard, though I will admit that over the years there have been a couple of exceptions, and in this case the final was being contested by the exceptions. But even so the thought of the Camanachd Cup Final without a North team?! Eugh… too horrible for words! It was going to have to be something epic to change my mind.

From before the Semi final draw was done, I suspected an all south final, once the draw was done, I knew it would be. From there the debate in my shinty orientated house was who would win. Number 1 son, who faced Kyles twice in the season playing for Lovat, said Kyles wouldn’t be beaten, they would have an easy victory, no messing. I threw the form book out the window and went on my belief that Inveraray are a team that for the big stage and always produce something special in big finals… they would score early, go in at half time leading and put up the shutters. There was a wee wager out on this one…

So along came September 15th. I was still humming and hawing as to whether I would head to Mossfield for South shinty, but in the end something inside me told me, this one was going to be worth the trip.

There was a cracking buzz about the park from early on, Kyles always bring a great support for finals, and part of me remembered 1994 when I was still a Fort William WAG… a lot of the Kyles faces in the crowd were the same, but with a few more wrinkles. Inveraray in turn brought a great support, bolstered by the presence of their kids being in action before the main final. I was sitting just inside the barriers down the golf course end in front of the hill taking photos as the teams came onto the field and there was an instant charge of excitement, similar to the Newtonmore v Kingussie final the year before, a massive derby atmosphere, the faces of some fans obviously strained with nerves and excitement.

After 30 minutes I was considering a career change and becoming Mystic Meg the second… the game was going as I predicted it would…

What I didn’t count on?? The Inveraray defense not turning up for the second half!! I have to be honest actually, defensively, both sides were shocking on the day, but lordy me, going in 4-2 up at halftime it had to be all over, didn’t it?… Even the folk behind me, and oh wow I had some banter behind me, were convinced. Those in Yellow were happily goading the Blue clad fans 20 yards down the line about their wasted journey, and comparing their season to that of Arsenal.. So what the heck happened?! Surely at 4-2 common sense tactics says you man mark and close shop, instead ‘Raray just kept on pushing forward and left massive holes at the back, that were going to be exposed by one of the finest young players in the country today.

If there is one bit of hype I had heard over the year, it was about a lad called Roddy MacDonald, son of the legend that is Kenny. The great and the good across the North from the Eilean to Pairc Nan Laoch, had told me how this young lad could run forever, ‘he doesn’t tire’ they said, ‘he scores for fun’ they said, ‘he is Kyles main man’ they said… and wasn’t he just on 15th September. The Inveraray defense were sliced like a hot knife through butter in the second half, time and again and the pressure was telling. Kyles 2nd half breakthrough came from the penalty spot, I personally ain’t sure it was a penalty, wee bit of a dive from my angle, but I wasn’t the ref. After that, although Inveraray restored their 2 goal advantage 3 minutes later, it was clear the worm had turned. The banter behind me was shifting too. The Yellow fans were getting nervous. Muttering among themselves had replaced their taunts of the Blue fans… while in Contrast the Kyles faithful had obviously picked up on the turn on the shinty field… their volumes were raised and the tails were up, the hill at Mossfield was a rippling sea of Blue as the Tighnabruaich crowd jumped and ducked and played every ball with their team in the ascendancy… within the next 5 minutes, Kyles had were level, within 15 minutes ahead, and although the game was still end to end, somehow I knew it was over. The fitter team were now dominating, the veteran Kenny MacDonald in the Kyles goals was doing what he does best, being a frustrating old bugger that leaves you on the sideline thinking, ‘how the hell does he bust moves like that to make saves like that at his age?!’ The Yellow fans behind me were now sniping at the officials… the yellow team were out on their feet.. and I was wrong and owed number one son a fiver!!! OH how that hurt!

For the Neutral shinty fan it was a great game to watch, 11 goals, 2 teams going end to end of the battle field, no quarter asked nor given, the fairy tale of the Father and Son playing and winning the Camanachd Cup together in the famous Kyles shirts… yeah, I guess an all South final wasn’t so bad after all, but not sure I could handle one every season 😉

I will finish by wishing Kyles all the best for the 2013 season, sure our paths will cross at some point throughout the year 🙂

PS.. I will be photographing throughout the season and blogging, to keep up with my photos and views of the game throughout the year, look in at http://www.tinamarshall.co.uk Ta Much 🙂

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