The extension of their record haul to 32 Camanachd Cup successes was a victory achieved as much by superb planning off the pitch as performance on it on Saturday as Newtonmore showed both by why they boast matchless pedigree in shinty’s most prestigious competition but also the competitive mongrel that allowed them to find a way to win when the odds were stacked against them.

In any sport only those steeped in such traditions could have begun with such conviction and retained it throughout given the circumstances confronting them before and during the season’s showpiece at the Bught Park in Inverness.

Injuries and suspensions had brought about what was almost the equivalent of Scott Brown being asked to play in goal while inviting John Kennedy to put in a shift at centre half in a major cup final, as Paul MacArthur switched from midfield to stand between the sticks and former international captain Norman Campbell resumed his outfield career at the age of 38.

Former Scotland captain Campbell had already performed heroics this season as an emergency stand-in goal-keeper before a full blown defensive crisis forced Paul John (PJ) Mackintosh, their manager to get very creative in rebuilding their defence. MacArthur’s solitary run out in goal the previous week at Kilmallie, which also saw Campbell remind himself of the full-back role, was all the preparation they had, while the biggest gamble of all was still to be made as they decided whether or not to risk fielding club captain Rory Kennedy after two months on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage. Against a Lovat side that had been in magnificent form, winning its six previous matches while rattling in 17 goals, the re-shuffle proved masterful, his team looking assured as, with a decent breeze at their backs they imposed themselves with two goals inside a minute from Neil Stewart and Jamie Robinson establishing a half-time advantage.

However the way that was wiped out midway through the second half with a similarly quick fire burst would have completely undermined the belief of most sports teams. Pretty much the only time they got in behind the makeshift defensive line, Lovat substitute Mark MacLachlan made his presence felt as he nudged the ball past MacArthur, but much worse was to come for Newtonmore immediately after the re-start as both wind and sun helped Lorne MacKay’s speculator from 50 yards out elude the stand-in goal-keeper.

Newtonmore were briefly unsettled, but then re-imposed themselves and from the moment, with 14 minutes left, that Glen Mackintosh collected David MacLean’s pass just outside the D to tee up Evan Menzies’s winning strike, they dominated. An unsavoury late exchange saw Callum Cruden (for a recklessly dangerous flail of the stick) and Newtonmore sub Conor Jones (for retaliating once he had recovered), red carded but took nothing away from the sense of achievement in the winning camp, not least for the man who had managed to get himself onto the pitch to achieve a new status in the sport.

“It means absolutely everything. To be captain of a Scottish Cup winning team, I can’t put it into words,” said Kennedy, who was still receiving treatment pre-match started and admitted to having doubted he would get this opportunity.

“There were always doubts in the back of my mind. It’s been a long seven weeks. The first time I thought I had a chance was Tuesday night. It wasn’t looking too good until then, but I managed to get through training this week and just went for it. Obviously there’s a risk involved and Paul John has to take that on board as well, but I wouldn’t put myself in there if I didn’t think I would be able to at least last more than a half, because then you’re putting the team and the manager under extra pressure they don’t really need, especially on a big day like this.”

His captaincy has been marked by collective as well as personal frustration with the loss of the Marine Harvest Premiership title for the first time in eight years, but the Camanachd Cup remains the sport’s greatest prize and a reward for their sustained competitiveness as Kennedy observed in adding: “We’ve been dealt a lot of bad cards this year and we’ve ground it out. We’ve made every single final and only just surrendered the league a few weeks ago, so it has been a good season overall with all things considered.”