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High Ormlie have ‘a really good chance’ as they look to retain Eain Mackintosh Cup

By Alan Hendry

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High Ormlie Hotspur celebrating their Eain Mackintosh Cup triumph last season. They take on Staxigoe United in the 2024 final this Saturday. Picture: James Gunn
High Ormlie Hotspur celebrating their Eain Mackintosh Cup triumph last season. They take on Staxigoe United in the 2024 final this Saturday. Picture: James Gunn

If High Ormlie Hotspur manage to retain the Eain Mackintosh Cup this weekend, they will have done it the hard way.

Hotspur knocked out the “big two” of Caithness amateur football on their way to the final. And their opponents at Recreation Park in Halkirk on Saturday, Staxigoe United, are on a run of nine games unbeaten.

“It is refreshing not seeing Wick Groats or Pentland United but on our cup run we’re the team that put both of them out,” player/co-manager Ryan Sutherland Jnr said.

“It is a cup final at the end of the day and anything can happen.

“Staxigoe have been in really good form of late. They’ve got a lot of talent in their squad, a mixture of young and more experienced ex-Highland League players, and a lot of North Caley players in there as well, so I imagine it’ll be a very tight and competitive game.

“But we need to just focus on ourselves. We believe that we’ve got a really good chance with the squad that we have.”

Hotspur fell behind to a goal from Danny Doogan in Tuesday night’s semi at Lybster, but the visitors were 3-1 up by half-time and ran out 5-1 winners. Their scorers were Ethan Kevill (2), Kieran MacGregor, Stuart Campbell and and Liam Bain.

“All credit to Lybster,” Sutherland said. “They were really organised and you could tell that their instructions were ‘let’s have a go at them’, and they certainly did.

“They scored to put themselves one up, but after that I thought the boys did really well to stick together. We knew if we played our football that the chances would come.

“I felt we dominated large parts of the game and we saw ourselves through quite comfortably.”

Lybster manager Cameron Mackenzie said: “We’re disappointed, for sure. We remain upbeat, however. This is our first season back up and we know we are competing with the best.

“We’ll remain positive on what we’ve done well, and learn from our mistakes. Now is no time to be feeling sorry for ourselves and downing tools – there is everything still to play for in the bottom half of the table, and if we want to stay up we have to remain unified and play at our absolute best.

“They’re a great group of lads and I have every bit of faith they’ll see it through.”

The semi-final came three days after High Ormlie had gone the full distance in their Highland Amateur Cup last-16 tie against Wick Groats. Hotspur won 4-3 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time.

High Ormlie produced a sensational performance in last year’s Eain Mackintosh Cup final, beating Wick Groats 6-0 to lift their first county knockout trophy.

Pentland United kept up their first division title challenge with a convincing 7-1 victory over Wick Thistle in Wednesday night’s top-versus-bottom clash at the Upper Bignold Park.

There was a hat-trick for Sam Mackay, while James Murray scored twice, including a penalty. Cameron Montgomery and Conor Cormack got the others for the Stabbies, with Scott Durrand on target for Thistle.

Results – CAFA Division One: Wick Thistle 1, Pentland United 7.

Caithness AFA Division Two: Keiss 4, Watten 1; Pentland 1, Acks 4; Top Joe’s 1, Swifts 5; Swifts 5, Halkirk 1.

Eain Mackintosh Cup, semi-finals: Lybster 1, High Ormlie Hotspur 5; Watten 0, Staxigoe United 4.

Fixtures – Thursday, July 4 – Division Two: Acks v Watten; Halkirk v Top Joe’s (both 7.30pm).

Saturday, July 6 – Eain Mackintosh Cup final: High Ormlie Hotspur v Staxigoe United (Recreation Park, Halkirk, 3pm).

Tuesday, July 9 – David Allan Shield, round one: Acks v Wick Thistle; Staxigoe United v Halkirk; Top Joe’s v Keiss; Watten v Swifts (all 7.15pm).

Wednesday, July 10 – David Allan Shield, round one: John O’Groats v Thurso Pentland; Lybster v High Ormlie Hotspur; Pentland United v Castletown (all 7.15pm). Wick Groats have a bye.

Highland Amateur Cup third round results: Black Rock Rovers 7, Culbokie 2; High Ormlie Hotspur 1, Wick Groats 1 (HOH won 4-3 on penalties after extra time); Pentland United 6, Lybster 0; Maryburgh 1, Avoch 2; Rendall 1, Ness 4; Stornoway Athletic 3, Inverness Athletic 1; Stromness Athletic 1, Helmsdale United 2; Tomatin United 1, Sleat and Strath 2.

Highland Amateur Cup quarter-final draw: High Ormlie Hotspur v Black Rock Rovers; Pentland United v Ness; Sleat and Strath v Avoch; Stornoway Athletic v Helmsdale United. (Ties to be played on Saturday, July 13; venues and kick-off times TBC).

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