BUTE’S hopes of lifting the oldest trophy in shinty for the first time in the club’s history were dashed on Saturday as an on-form Inveraray side ran out 6-3 winners in the semi-final of the AJG Parcels Celtic Society Cup at the Meadows.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Chris Crawford received the ball from the wing and struck a low, powerful shot past Bute keeper Kevin Queen - and three minutes later Garry Macpherson made it two from Ruairidh Graham’s lay-off before Euan McMurdo added a third on the half-hour when a long ball forward caught the Bute defence on the hop.
A goal for Bute early in the second half just might have changed the complexion of the match – but instead it was Inveraray who all but tied up the game within a minute of the restart when Crawford snapped up the rebound after Russell Mackinlay’s shot was brilliantly stopped by Queen.
Roberto Zavaroni finally got Bute on the score sheet when he lashed the ball into the roof of the net on 65 minutes after Hector Whitelaw laid off a Graham Fisher free hit, and the home support were given a glimmer of hope when captain Robert Walker finished off a well-worked move from close range 11 minutes later.
But any dreams of a grandstand finished were snuffed out almost immediately when Macpherson hammered home his second to put Inveraray 5-2 up, and the visitors increased their goal tally to six when McMurdo set up the hard-working Mackinlay for a low shot across Queen and into the corner of the net.
Queen denied Macpherson a hat-trick with a fine penalty save moments later, and in fact it was Bute who had the last word, Whitelaw converting from the spot two minutes from the end.
But the goal was no more than the tiniest crumb of comfort for Bute, who fell well short against an Inveraray side who will be hot favourites to lift the trophy for a 23rd time when they take on Taynuilt in the final in Strachur on June 23.
* This Saturday, May 26, both Bute teams are in derby action on home soil: at 12 noon the club’s second team take on Col-Glen, and then at 2.30pm the Bute first team play host to a Kyles Athletic side on a high after their 2-1 win over Fort William in the Orion Group Premiership last Saturday.