Saturday, June 10, 2006

Neutered ‘More

Camanachd Cup
Glenurquhart 1 Newtonmore 2

Its been a week of lying in a dark room trying to come to terms with the horror of the situation. No not me. Its Rik and Brick who have been undergoing therapeutic counselling over the fact that their team of Ubermenschen from the High Chaparral struggled to defeat a side from a lower league, albeit a side that loves the beautiful game so much it refuses to score anything less than the perfect goal. That came in 85 minutes when a combination of trickery from Corrigan and Lewis Maclennan led to the ball being placed on to Mike Ritchie in the ‘More goal.
I could hardly believe we were being so crude. I wanted some keepy -up , a ball across, perhaps an overlap by full back Gregor McCormack and finally a poke into the corner of the net reminiscent of a Dott in with a snooker cue-but only after keeper and full back were lying mesmerised on the ground. However, the ball came back across and Ruaraidh Cameron who had spent most of the afternoon wearing his jersey inside out and chattering to pensioners in the stand put it neatly in the net. I have to say Ruaraidh had been in the stand because he was “on the bench” as it were and the “bench” is in the stand. Not that he would be averse to chatting to pensioners if there were any hanging about but just so as you know the true circumstances .
“Just a tap in “ he said to me at the end.
It may only have been a tap in to Ruaraidh but if we had managed to put the ball over the line earlier it would have counted in the minds of the Glen supporters at least as a major irrigation scheme . As it was we ran out of time and sadly out of the cup.
There was always the ironic reflection that the Glen had been put out by two goals scored by a boy called Glen- and his second name Mackintosh is such that in a hundred years time it may well be thought that one of our very own backs had the misfortune to score twice in his own goals.
So the “Blue Riband “ of shinty trophies is not to be ours again this year. That expression , much favoured in “Build Up to the Camanachd Final” pieces in the National Press takes the biscuit as an old West Coast worthy was wont to say, though he used to say it of teams which began “McVitie and Price, Fox ,Huntley and Palmer” and ended up with “Simmers on the wing.”
So what about the game then? Until Glen Mackintosh got his goal in 35 minutes- and a fine drive from the right it was, high into the net- the Glen had competed well. The most intense area of the battle was in midfield : Paul Mackintosh and Dave Maclennan had their work cut out and in Paul’s case the cut was literal as John Mackenzie trailed a lazy club over his forehead in 10 minutes. However they competed well and had every bit as much of the ball up as the Newtonmore men had. At full centre Arran Macdonald had an excellent opening period so much so that Ricky Ross moved up front certainly because he took a knock but more truthfully because he found Arran just too sure on the ball . His replacement, David Cheyne was more mobile than Ross and although his absence meant that the Newtonmore front men were not shooting successfully his full centre shift kept Arran more occupied than was good for the Glen and especially in the second half meant that the Glen did not really have the territorial advantage they would have wished.
One other thought-Norman Campbell and especially Danny Macrae don’t ever give up and their massive hitting from defence as well as Mackenzie’s shies-I’d rather play with him than against him-was a feature of the match. That said Corrigan was excellent for long spells- particularly neat was a touch over Macrae’s head and a neat lay off when he got beyond him. He was hacked down on several occasions -on one the book should have come out- but to be fair the match didn’t have the edge of a dirty game.
Newtonmore just seemed in places to have more menace on the ball but that may well be a judgement made from having seen the Glen fail to test goalkeepers despite having possession of the ball in their opponent’s half . We are not simple enough. That said the rotating forward line- no man stays where he is for any length of time and the switch play is continual and continuous-will begin to become second nature. The front men are young and they will mature into this sophisticated pattern-only problem the final drive must make the keeper work and that includes the long range ones from the centre line.
If I have to praise one man it has to be Andrew Macdonald. If a moment summed up his match it was tapping the ball through his legs to outwit Cheyne . He also had the vision to touch it round Ricky Ross and pick it up on the other side. His hitting has been crisp and long and his pace gets him to the ball. He has been bred for summer shinty -put him in a heavy challenge in the November gutters and he will be battered off the ball-give him a dry pitch and a moving ball and he becomes the player we saw in Macdonald Cups ten years ago. Stewart Morrison at wing back was also excellent-the years rolled away and he looked as if he were back on the Bught in ‘88 where he had his finest hour and a half..
The Goalkeeper was equally superb- he got his club to about four difficult ones and cleared away any number of other dodgy ones : but Newtonmore made him work. Pause for effect. The one he lost in 78 minutes he almost stopped, fine stroke though it was.
Then of course we had our traditional surge towards the shop. Too late.
So the Camanachd Cup will not be on display in Paterson’s Stores this winter nor will it grace the counter of the Blarmor. However, if we keep at it and this team matures then we can make it through. After that anything can happen. There are after all only four matches to win before we get the civic reception in the Town House. Who knows ? We might even get Team of the Month that year.

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