An Afternoon of Glass Promotion.
Glenurquhart 0 Strathglass 0
I must confess I spent some idle moments making up headlines which I hoped would caption this match in some red-top or even broadsheet.. “Glass Title Hopes Smashed” was one of the mildest that came to mind. “Glass Dished in Drum” was another which might have found favour had not the old fashioned slang of “dished” not slipped so much into disuse in recent years. In the end I could use none of them.
Billed as “The Macdonald Cup to end all Macdonald Cups” in my head anyway a draw was a suitable result for the Glen and as a consequence and as holders we get to keep Old Macdonald’s Silverware for another 12 months. Right?. Seemingly not . We have to go through all this again next week. Will my nerves stand it? That match will be truly meaningless.
What about the game-the championship decider?
A hard fought battle between two sides who know each other well? A scrappy game with not much forward play? I heard both opinions : the first is too cliché ridden ; the second too mean not least for the fact it gives no credit to the defences both of which were outstanding yesterday.
Cards on the table- Man of the Match? Gregor MacCormack who tied up Gary Reid and whoever switched with him very effectively- so much so that Gary was never going to score. Not quite .Andrew Corrigan at buckshee is my choice- he dominated the position so much so that I forget who was playing against him. It might have been Darren Reid occasionally Barry-John Phimister came across and Les Fraser : It made no difference : Corrigan ate them up.
Small consolation though- because up front as we have done all season we lacked the punch to score against a good defence when the chips were down. Such was the dominance of Strathglass’s Donald Fraser at full back that there were really only two clear chances : the first one came right at the start and Stuart Reid was not sharp enough to put it away. The second chance came when Eddie Tembo , who had an excellent game throughout, did all the hard work by turning Donald Fraser and was clear in front of goal. He slipped as he swung his club and the opportunity was lost. It was the clearest chance of the game and it didn’t go in-end of story? Not quite -Calum Millar was barged off the ball by his opponent as a corner came in- a foul should have happened but the ref missed it- but then the pressure pace, commitment and contact of the game was such that you could not blame him. In the last five minutes Stewart Morrison came very close with a rasping shop and a steeply dropping drive from Arran Macdonald almost deceived Alan Macleod in the Strath goals but the ball went over.
In the end it was not to be and Strathglass held on to pick up the Nat Div 1 Championship - and good luck to them. It was just reward for all their efforts over a long hard season. If the Glen had been consistent enough they would have won it themselves .
But where were Strathglass in this match? Very close indeed -but the truth is Glenurquhart are better than Bute or Skye. On this given day they edged it over Strathglass but that’s not what the record books will say.
What about Kyles? Glenurquhart are no way better than Kyles. Are Strathglass? Results might suggest they are but perhaps they were fortunate to get their games against Kyles out of the way at a time Kyles hadn’t woken up to the fact their was a competition to win.. Whatever else, it is clear that Strathglass will always need a 25 year old Robert Geddes up front to finish off the hard work their midfielders put in. For that matter so do Glenurquhart. It has been the same story all season- an inability to finish consistently and regularly. Goals win matches - but at least the back line is right.
For the Strath midfielders Lee Bain stood out . Les Fraser and Barry John Phimister played well but were helped by the heavy pitch- a quicker surface would have had them in trouble though they could certainly depend on the pace of George Phimister to save their blushes. Up front, I liked the look of James Ross and Darren Reid, though they did not look like a Premier strike force to me. Glenurquhart don’t have one either.
Johnny Ach blew the whistle and having changed into his rotary club clothes made a nice speech, in which he mentioned the summer shinty vote and truthfully told us the game was an advert for shinty as a sport. Alan Bell who likes to dress up for these occasions, dressed appropriately down for this one but still managed to hand over the cup and medals to the Glasaich and the population of the Strath celebrated merrily on the sacred turf of Blairbeg. How Murdo would have enjoyed it.
I don’t grudge them it one bit-indeed if we should envy them anything it’s their community spirit. The whole Strath seemed to be there : young ,old , incomer and native. They pull together and support their shinty club and the shinty club brings Strathglass into the spotlight. Bonar Bridge , Lairg, Ullapool ,Kyle Plockton, Grantown- all small Highland communities could do with a shinty team like Cannich has. The challenge for the Camanachd Association is to help to create them.
What did surprise me though was the fact that just after 7 pm , on an evening when his team had won the Nat Div 1 Championship and Promotion, Roy was able to write a comment in the Shinty guest book. In most normal teams the guys would be comatose till Tuesday Then again, perhaps that’s the secret of the Strath’s success.