Sunday, September 02, 2007

Glen Underdogs Fail To Set Cat Amongst Pigeons

Balliemore Cup Final

Glenurquhart 0 Bert’s Boys 1

What do you get if you fail to win the most important match of the season? A mixed metaphor for a headline , that’s what. Indeed the Wing Centre wasn’t surprised that things would turn out this way because when he took the basket out of the loft to take the cat (pictured) to Newtonmore to set amongst the Kinlochshiel pigeons , the beast took one look at the box , assumed it was being taken to the vet and scuttled under the lagging in the combe of the house . Which was just as well because it had insisted on wearing a 'Shiel collar. And If you think this intro is a long way about saying nothing about a Glen loss then you may be right but you also have no idea how hard it is to turn pain into art.
Such is the hurt to the heart at the result of yesterday’s game that the Wing Centre cannot even type the name of the victorious club in the sub-heading at the top of the page, so lets make one thing clear. If you would like a clear report on this match from a West Coast perspective ,the suggestion is that you invest in a copy of the next West Highland Free Press : there you will no doubt read a detailed but biased account of how the Kintailers (with some help from the sharp Lochalsh brains of Bert and Keith) outwitted the two breeds of Glenners (Up and Down) and won the cup with an overwhelming display of power shinty. It was not like that at all though the natural fairness of the Glen contingent would admit that over the piece, the Ross-shire lads appeared to be more hungry for success and perhaps had the better of the play.
The first 20 minutes or so of the match were even but played at a frantic pace. What possession the Glen had in the midfield was scrappy -though Kinlochshiel had little better of the ball in that part of the field they did seem to be less hassled in the wing centre positions and their forwards had a little but not much more quality possession up front. Despite this , early on the Glen defence was fairly sound with John Barr extremely commanding at full back as was Stuart Reid on the wing. Andrew Macdonald handled Finlay Macrae well though he always posed some menace but Gregor McCormack found the Shiel wing forward a lively handful .
At the other end the Glen front men did not seem to be giving the ‘Shiel defenders very much to worry about and Paul Macrae in defence was especially sound. The Shiel wing backs were tenacious too and their speed to the ball was such that the Glen front three hardly got time to dwell on the ball and had to snatch at chances to little effect. Best of the Glen forwards in the opening half-hour was buckshee forward. Andrew Corrigan who was up against arguably the best of the ‘Shiel players, Finlay Macrae. Both players had 50-50 of the game until about 30 minutes when after a tangle just inside the Shiel half Corrigan received a nasty face cut from the club of his own wing centre Paul Mackintosh. Corrigan bravely retuned to the field after receiving 5 stitches along his cheekbone and the Glen continued to press but were denied a clear attempt at goal when the ‘Shiel defence brought down Lewis Maclennan with the goal at his mercy. A professional foul perhaps but any competent defence will do it and good luck to them. The resulting free hit was cleared.
The teams were poised 0-0 at half time but even the Wing Centre would have to admit ‘Shiel looked somehow quicker about the field especially in their defence and in parts of the middle though the Glen had enough in the centre to make something of it and while Arran Macdonald was firing some long balls through but the wing forwards just could not get hold of them.
The second half was more or less a mirror image of the first up to and beyond the winning goal which came in 51 minutes. Keith Macrae got on to the ball and was allowed to run though at the defence. Not that the Wing Centre is an advocate of foul play but needs must : Macrae should have been tripped up as he came toward the goal and since he is a strong fellow maybe the attempt was made and he did not go down. Whatever, he got the ball across and Neil Fraser- whose grandfather Iain Dubh not only would have been proud of him but would also personally have made sure Keith Macrae would never have got the ball across to him in the first place-put the ball in the net with a nice strike.
In the end it was to prove decisive.
The game continued in the same manner for the next 15 minutes with neither goalkeeper being troubled in any way and then the Glen got the formula almost correct. Calum Miller came on up front at full forward and started to unsettle Paul Macrae with the sort of challenges he could have done with half an hour earlier. Miller also got a hold of enough ball to test out keeper Kennedy for the first time in the match. Dave Maclennan brought some fresh legs to the centreline and with David Girvan coming on at the back , John Barr was able to move up to half back where his powerful hitting began to turn the tide. There were a number of chances but they were snatched at and the ‘Shiel defence had enough savvy to bring down Neale Reid as he was about to slip his marker into space. But as everyone knows free hits in shinty are of no value to the attacking team and so the Glen ran out of time , though not before a heart stopping moment for ‘Shiel when Paul Mackintosh fired a powerful drive just inches past on the stroke of full time.
The Cup went to Kintail for the first time and the silver mounted caman to Fraser MacVicar - and well done to them and him.
So since we did not win the Cup, what did we win?
Our minibuses were nicer than theirs……
We had a Kintail man and a New Zealander driving our buses : they had nobody from Glenurquhart to drive theirs.
Both Mr Reid and the Treasurer wore their old Strathdearn 1977 lucky suits and looked smarter than the Kinlochshiel management. The Vice Chairman was on the smart side too. Gary Mac wore a tie-so all these points count in our favour
Kinlochshiel also had a councillor present at the match while the Glen did not. and that surely counts as yet another point in our favour.
Truth is the Kinlochshiel boys are good crack -indeed such good crack that we would hate to see them promoted and never see them again. In fact we would rather see Lovat promoted instead and so when ’Shiel come to Drum in a fortnight’s time for the last League fixture we’ll probably play our top team just to take the points off them.
It would be an excellent wheeze to send Lovat up out of their depth. Besides they keep beating us.

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