Saturday, November 08, 2008

How the Glen beat Ireland and four lads became local heroes

The magnitude of the whole Ireland story only became apparent to the Wing Centre last night at the Sale of Work. Yes, of course the Club has gone big time but Glenners don’t forget their roots and the Sale of Work is our equivalent of corporate hospitality - a cup of tea, some tablet and a chunk of venison to take home. You can also gamble to your heart’s content with Prof Peter English’s “write your name beside a number and pay me a pound “scam,though it has to be said that Ishbel Barr’s game of skill-“Guess the Weight of the Cake” appeared to have rules all of its own, chief amongst which was to forbid the entry into the competition of the butcher from Fort Augustus on the grounds that his hand contains an accurate built in weighing machine all of its own. Possibly, it was not fair of Ishbel to insist on kilograms instead of pounds and ounces - and to say “2.2 lb to the Kilogram” to a pensioner was unnecessarily cruel since when pensioners were last in school, pounds had not been decimalised and contained 16 ounces each.
All of which brings one eventually back to the momentous nature of the events in the Emerald Isle. Why? Because memorabilia from the game was on display at the Sale and the 4 heroes were there on display themselves. They had signed a hurley ball and a hurley stick and were flogging them right left and centre. They were signing photos - the treasurer drew the line at them signing shinty sticks- and generally was doing the whole hero act.
“They’ll be doing a Calendar next” said one of the ladies on the Bric a Brac stall , a suggestion which no doubt will be given consideration at the next Committee meeting since when you’ve got a product ,you have to market it while you can.
Now the Treasurer has been going about with a spring in his step of late, not unconnected with the fact that more people think he is the Scotland manager than think he is the Treasurer – though he has heard it said in neighbouring Glens and Straths that “The only reason four Glen boys made it to the Scotland squad was because that Fraser Mackenzie was manager.” Now of course it was the real Fraser Mackenzie who was the Scotland manager and to be fair he sussed the Irish hurlers out years ago. He picked the Glen boys because they were Glen boys and committed to his cause-just like he picked the other Scotland boys because they were able to commit.
Absent were some superb Premier players who were unable to commit - and the Wing Centre does not feel they are to be blamed since the Premier League imposes great travelling strains on its players. Anyone who has covered the distance from Badenoch to Bute or Kyles on a Saturday cannot be taken to task if he does not wish to do the same on a Sunday for a training session.
This season the men in green put out a good team - in the sense that they are all excellent players and indeed some of them were All-stars, which is to say that they were voted into the top 14 by the Irish hurley viewing public. Yet it was clear to the Scotland manager that you can pick any 12 players from any village in Scotland and they will beat the Irish - provided of course you take the time to practice the drills and play to a system. As for our Celtic Cousins they turn up on the day and hope for the best. Indeed it’s doubtful if they know each other and it is probably fair to say that the Kilkenny boys cannot understand what the Ulster lads are saying. “Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail” is what Donnie Grant used to claim and of course he was right. Scotland prepared and prospered and the Glen lads had a hand in a glorious and, truthfully, unexpected victory.
When did the Glen last have four players in an international team? Not in the Wing Centre’s memory anyway. What is more the players put in a good shift. There is no intention here to give a report on the match - the WHFP and the Oban Times have done that service but You-tube reveals (the Wing Centre was in Ardnamurchan when the game was being played) a superb performance from John Barr - he was against a top hurler and snuffed him out while “Corky “ Corrigan produced a display which could have put him in the running for man of the match and would have had he not scorned “that “ chance. Stuart Mack came on at the end and had to face an unstoppable penalty – but that aside, the Wing Centre will never understand why he was not made player of the year on the occasion he played his 5th time in a row for the Scotland under 21s. Then of course on came EJ and won the game. A pass inside and there was a point and the glorious drive from distance which made the difference in the end.
Well done to all - and to Lewis Maclennan who played for the under 21s. Lewis is of course already a local hero not just in Druimlon but also up Balmacaan and down Lewiston, which was named 200 years ago in his honour and retained that name because of his penalty against Kilmallie when there was every prospect of it being renamed Loch Ness Street. He is not quite accepted beyond the Polmailly Burn though that will come. Whatever, enjoy the snaps!!

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