Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lets Just Call That A Wrap, Shall We?

Ardnamurchan 0 Glenurquhart 8
So the heroes finally made it to the podium and it is now official-the Glen have won every league they have entered this year. How good is that? Well very good and we should enjoy it while it lasts because after a month or two it will all have to start again at a much higher level.
If Kilmallie last week gave an insight into the intensity of competition at the higher level for the first team, then Hendo must be aware that he will not be playing teams of youngsters like Ardnamurchan each week in the next league up. Not to take anything away from the Strontian side because, like Lochbroom the previous week, they were more or less a team of under-17s and in that context were good players especially the goalie who was excellent and the full centre who sadly was dismissed for a second bookable late in the second half.
The Wing Centre also admired the little full forward who came on in the second half against Garry Mac because despite being up against a player who was bigger than him the little fellow stuck at it and never shirked a tackle. Indeed the Ardnamurchan lads were denied a goal only because Dave Emery made a superb save from a penalty strike- a well taken one too- so it was not a day on which the Glen were going to yield anything to anyone.
If there was one disappointment it was the fact that none of the local community-bar one gentleman taking snaps for the local newsletter-turned up to watch the local youngsters at their shinty. One assumes the ’Murchan kids have interested parents; one also assumes that not everyone else on the peninsula was at the Mod and they certainly were not in Kilkenny, if the TV pictures of the pathetic crowd at Nowlan Park are to believed.
A good crowd of Glen supporters came all the way down in a bus- and it would have been nice if the Ardnamurchan folks had bothered to give a bit of support to their youngsters who were involved actively in sport on a Saturday rather than in hanging around on the croft corners bothering the sheep. If the Ardnamurchan lads keep at it and as they mature there is every chance that , like Lochbroom they can go on to better things in shinty. The basic ability is certainly there.
The game itself took place in good bright conditions which was very much different from what was experienced on the long run down from Drum via Corran and the Glen gave notice of their early intentions with a shot in 4 minutes from Ben Hosie which was well saved by the home keeper.
In 5 minutes however the breakthrough came when Hosie was awarded a free hit. He quickly took the foul tapping it through on to Stuart Morrison and the old Silver Fox made no mistake from close range. There then followed a period in which Ardnamurchan forwards made a determined assault on the Glen goal but found the red and black defence in resolute form and truthfully they brought out two fine stops from keeper Emery which the visiting fans were relieved to see.
However in 20 minutes Bradley Dickson who was playing neatly on the right wing followed up on a ball which rebounded from the keeper and finally managed to squeeze it over the line for the Glen’s second counter.
Eight minutes later the Glen went three up when a nice piece of shinty from Ben Hosie allowed Stuart Morrison to scorch a drive into the net from the edge of the D.
The Glen then finished the first half with two more goals as Calum Fraser made a belated attempt to win the “Glen Goalscorer of the Year” trophy: the first was a nice drive in 41mins and the second came when he ran through the home defence to slip it over the line in 44mins.
The second half was a slower affair, the most notable early moment coming in 60 minutes when Ardnamurchan’s Liam Thornton had his penalty well saved by Dave Emery. The shot was well struck and heading for the keepers top left hand corner when Mr E fully justified the vast expense of his keeper’s caman by deflecting the ball over and past for a corner. The Glen used their subs at this point with Ross Macdiarmid, Ewan Menzies and Roger Grant coming on for a run in the last match
Within a few minutes the young Ardnamurchan penalty taker was dismissed for a second bookable- his frustrations was understandable- and the Glen had a comfortable run in to the title with the three remaining goals coming from Calum Fraser in 70mins, 80 mins and 82 mins. The only piece of bad luck was that young winger Ross Macdiarmid took a gash above his left eye in a tackle but, after being patched up he came back in to finish the game strongly and might have added to the Glen’s tally but for the fact that his drive flew just over the bar.
With the game in the bag, the cup suddenly appeared and was presented to Captain Emery and the rest of the Heroes. Hendo had in fact asked all of the players he used to come along and most were able to make the journey-though Iain Macdonald (still with a bad hand since the Lochcarron game) and Garry Smith (working) were unable to make it.
Afterwards the pictures above were taken and the medals themselves were presented to the players who were present by Dodo Macdonald, Lewiston who has been an ever present supporter at 1st or 2nd team fixtures this season. The snaps taken are as follows-Och you can see them for yourselves!!
Well done to all!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Simply the Best-Barr None

Glen (should have got) 4 - Kilmallie 3
Inverness 0 - Hendo’s Heroes 8
Here is what the fans have been waiting for all season-Captain Courageous with the trophy in his hands at Canal Park. Bit of fancy photography here-notice the reflection of the rest of the guys in the polished silver of the old Cup. Come to think of it, if this has to be pointed out then the photography is not quite as hot as it was intended to be, but then who really cares? Not the Wing Centre.
The other snap-it has to be the real team of the year – shows Mr Menzies & Mr Maclean , Whytie the Trainer and Hendo of the Heroes. Hendo’s Heroes by the way simply need to keep focused and with a bit of luck will end up picking up their trophy and if they can notch a few goals in the last game or two might even end up scoring more goals for the season than even Ronald Ross himself. What is more, Mr Stuart (The Raptor) Morrison, former superstar of Premier and Camanachd Cup fame may even end up scoring more goals than even Ben Hosie what with his "predatory tendencies" as described by The Courier. Who can say?
One thing that does have to be said though is that it was cruel for the manager to play Lewis Maclennan in goals against Kilmallie in the last game of the season just so he would not be top goal scorer for the second year running. Of course the real motive for putting Lewis in goals and resting Davie Girvan and Arran Macdonald was to give Kilmallie a chance to win a match on their own turf in front of their own fans, them having blown the League, the MacTavish and the Balliemore all in the one season. Stuart Mac was of course annoyed to have been left out seeing as he has the best league record as a keeper -across all the Leagues that is. However, Dave Emery who is second best goalie across all the Leagues, definitely has a claim against Gary Mackintosh who stood in for Dave while he was in Australia (and lost some goals it has to be said) because without Gary’s intervention there is every chance Dave would have been chosen as Glen goalie of the year-now things are not so clear cut. If that seems unfair on Dave then that is just how it is in the cut throat world of Glen goalkeeping - after all this is the village which produced hail keepers like Dodo Cameron, Tommy McKenna, Len Macrae, Calvin Oliver, Peter Macdonald and Billy Macleod. The Wing Centre is sure if Mikey Fraser can just stick in at Caley Thistle he will eventually get a phone call from either Mr Menzies or Mr Maclean and he can once more compete for the honour of wearing the red and black jersey, though he will most certainly have to stop wearing his socks pulled up over his knee caps.
Anyway the Glen scored a neat goal in five minutes when Gregor McCormack fired a shot in on goalie Bochy MacNiven who got his feet to it only to find the ball going back out to Neale Reid who put the Glen one up. Then the Glen side line was distracted because the news came through on the mobile that the heroes were going mad in Inverness " Raptor" Morrison had only gone and scored two goals and it looked as if the Heroes were on their way.
Kilmallie appear to have scored an equaliser at that point –not that the Wing Centre was watching because there was a heron on the shoreline that had distracted him- and then someone on the sideline said something harsh in a Lochaber accent about spoiling the party.
"How could you spoil a party if you weren’t invited to it ?" suggested the Wing Centre to himself inside his head and then reflected that there were even people in Strathglass who would be further up the guest list for the party than the party in question - though possibly not Roy.
Then a further roar went up from the sideline-Ben Hosie had scored against the Town and then another roar, "Panda "Crichton had put in another one . Then joy of joys, the Raptor completed his hat-trick. The heroes were in the comfort zone now.
"Look Wing Centre - come off that phone!" It was Jimmac with news from the non-game that was going on in the Canal Park. "Kilmallie have scored two more goals"
"Any good?"
"Not really. The defence is not trying but we better put in a wee effort now. It’s all very well feeling sorry for them because they messed up their season but enough’s enough"
Then the Wing Centre and Jimmac went to Mr Menzies & Mr Maclean and after a minute or two they told the team to try and put on Davie Girvan and Arran and Calum Miller and moved Dixon Maclennan up front and if it not been for the fact that Bochy MacNiven had his one good game of the season then the Glen would surely have won 4-3.
Meanwhile, at the Bught the day was rounded off with a super goal from Ben Hosie and a final strike from Calum Fraser who is incidentally going to be married soon and to whom all the best is wished-provided his new status will not affect his shinty that is.
And that’s the way it finished, Glen beat Inverness 8-0 – but it was also gratifying to see that Kilmallie can win a game when it doesn’t really matter – and the Glen wish them all the best for next season’s North Division 1 campaign.
So up the road we went -being refused entry at the Invergarry Hotel - but on we carried regardless to the Blar where we had our party and then we went home.
All we need to do now is cross the Corran Ferry on Saturday and return with two more points, which is quite ironic because four Glen boys will be playing for Scotland in Ireland on Saturday but no-one in Drum will be watching, because we will all be in Ardnamurchan. That’s how passionate we are about the old sport.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Glen Give 'Broom The Brush-Off

North Division 3
Glenurquhart 9 Lochbroom 1
With only three games left in this division, the Glen have an excellent chance of putting another piece of silverware in the trophy cabinet. The main stumbling block will of course be Boleskine who took points of f Hendo’s Heroes in Drum earlier in the season. Hopefully young Raymond will be on the hill shooting stags for the next few weeks and with him out of the way the chances of Glen success are the greater. It would be extremely ironic if Geordie & Hazel’s next door neighbour from Pitkerrald Road in Drum were to put the kybosh on the Glen winning a trophy - so no pressure there Raymond!
This game most possibly had a score which in the end was a little hard on the lads from Ullapool. For one thing they had struggled to put out a team the previous week - stalking duties are not confined to Strathglass or even Boleskine - and when they arrived in Drum, the Broom Boys were without both eminent full back Mr Fraser and equally eminent full forward Mr Cameron Macrae. Indeed Lochbroom had a very young team on the park - always remembering that two of their very good young players are now attached to Kinlochsheil – while the Glen had a much more experienced outfit on show.
The Glen started very quickly and within ten minutes were two up through strikes from veteran Stuart Morrison and teenage forward Ben Hosie and no doubt would have gone further ahead were it not for an excellent display between the posts from Lochbroom’s Ruaridh Hughes who must have stopped at least five goal bound shots in this period. It was not totally all one way traffic however and crisp hitting from the Lochbroom centreline put the young Glen defence under pressure at times, especially when the tall figure of Josh Talbot got on the ball for ‘Broom. Garry Mackintosh in the Glen goal however, despite feeling pressured by the presence of regular keeper Dave Emery on the touchline, was a commanding figure between the sticks and at no time in the early period did the Glen defence look like conceding a goal.
Any hint of anxiety was lifted in 33 minutes however, when Morrison bagged his second goal and when Davie Stewart finally put a shot in the net in 40 minutes the game was well and truly in the bag except for a little flash of ‘Broom brilliance when Josh Talbot first timed a cross ball past Mackintosh to open the West Coasters account.
It was too late and was always going to be too little as the second half was soon to reveal. Having introduced Ross Macfarlane at wing back in place of Ewan Menzies who was due to play for the north under-14s the next day , Hendo insisted the forwards lifted their game and they responded willingly. Ben Hosie rapidly reached his hat-trick with two excellent strikes in 49 and 59 and Davie Stewart was quick to join him on the three goal mark when he hit the net twice in 64 and 70. The final Glen strike came from Andrew "Panda" Crichton who rammed in his effort in 72, and truth to tell, if Hughes had not been so outstanding between the posts there was every chance that Morrison would also have managed three goals to his account - though one can never be sure.
In the end the Glen did what they had to do and possibly more - but for Lochbroom there is every hope that as their youngsters develop they will be more and more successful. In the end as every shinty manager knows it is all down to scoring goals - and if Lochbroom can manage to produce another goal scorer like Neil Fraser – and hang on to him then the future should be brighter. The secret is to keep going.
Certainly "keeping going" is what the Glen hope to do against Inverness in their next match. It is not a game that Hendo will take lightly and one would expect to see an experienced side take to the field, despite the fact that the top team will be in Kilmallie for the last game of the season.
Summing the match up it is fair to say the side all played well - even if they were not under the most intense of scrutiny. Calum Smith, Ewan Menzies and Ross Macfarlane were comfortable in their positions. Brad Dickson played nicely and Ben Hosie’s goals speak for themselves. The bulk of the fetch and carry work however was done by Ross MacAulay and David Smart , while Donald Fraser, stepping in for a guest appearance at half back was extremely effective. Calum Fraser played his part well while Matthew Clark at full back was solid and always had the better of his man.
The picture - minus Ewan Menzies who had gone to get changed - has been taken and presented because it was the last opportunity to snap the guys at home this season. Here’s to a successful end to the season!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ee-aye Ee-aye Ee-aye O! Up to the Premier Glen Now Go

North Division 1
Glenurquhart 1 Kilmallie 0
In the end, it was only what the team had worked for all season long. For the last thirty minutes of the match however, the Glen followers found their emotions and their nerves severely tested as Kilmallie , who had probably shaded the match in terms of pressure, mounted a last ditch attempt to prolong their season by snatching a dramatic equaliser. Considering they had managed to force extra time in the MacTavish semi by scoring right at the death, there was no complacency up on the steps of the pavilion as referee John Sloggie’s watch ticked the time down.
"If they lose the League, it will all be down to that stupid point they lost against Inverness" Now everyone knows that-even Stevie Munro the ‘Ness goalie who kept out Reid, Corrigan , Maclennan and Mc Cormack-but it did not help to be reminded of it. In the end, the very end, the story was that Kilmallie missed their chance to equalise when minutes from time, John Stewart finally eluded what the Courier guy was wont to call "the smothering tackles" of John Barr and fired his shot high over the top when the normal expectation was that he would hit the target. When the Glen forwards then carried the ball successfully into the left hand corner to run down the clock, not once but twice –winning a foul each time-then it was clear that the Glen wanted the victory more than they wanted to play good shinty. Good shinty or winning shinty? Sometimes these coincide-sometimes they don’t, as Fort William will testify- but what mattered to the Glen, after Balliemore failure four times in a row (the Wing Centre has suffered them all-at Ballachulish, at Kingussie, at Newtonmore and then this year’s robbery by Skye)was a victory and a trophy. Nothing less would do.
Mind you the opening was not especially promising because within a minute of the start Ross Lavin the Kilmallie centre had found himself in enough space to try a drive at goal which fortunately flew wide. The next action of note came in a strong clash between John Stewart and John Barr in which the Glen defender proved that he had the measure of Kilmallie’s international forward- and with Stuart Reid tight on Fraser Massie, the pattern of the game was set. The next to try his luck was Michael Rodgers but he too was off target after being put under severe pressure from Dave Girvan. Glen’s first serious attack came in 8 minutes when Eddie Tembo slipped the ball up the wing to Gregor McCormack who had run wide to receive the pass. He slipped the ball in to Neale Reid but his drive flew high over the bar.
In the next Kilmallie attack, John Stewart had a shot saved by Stuart Mackintosh before another powerful run from Tembo into the Kilmallie defence resulted in a semi clearance which was picked up by Glen wing centre Ally Mackintosh but his forward hit carried on too far going out of play. Play at this stage was uncompromising and in some fierce exchanges Kilmallie’s Rodgers took a knock from which he appeared to recover though it was clear that by the second half he had lost some fluency of movement.
The closest Glen came to a goal in this period was when a fierce low strike from distance by Eddie Tembo almost caught "Bochy " MacNiven unawares but the Kilmallie keeper got his feet to the ball and it flew past the post for a corner. This was quickly taken but with the Kilmallie defence struggling to cover, Gregor McCormack put his shot over the bar.
The second half provided more of the same fare with one exception and that was in 52 minutes when in the course of a Glen attack the ball broke loose from the Kilmallie defence on the edge of the D and Neale Reid forced the ball home to make his own small piece of Glen history.
Kilmallie naturally enough came back but they were fated to be up against-the stats prove it- the best defence in the League. David Girvan was exceptional while Paul Mackintosh had a superb afternoon- and with John Barr and Stuart Reid also in uncompromising mood Kilmallie were not going to score, especially bearing in mind the fact that Stuart Mackintosh was right on top of his game.
In the end –after a small scare at the end of the match when Kilmallie worked a chance for John Stewart which he failed to convert-the Glen ran out deserved winners. Why? Perhaps because they have not lost a game in their campaign so far nor have they leaked goals all season like Kinlochsheil and Skye with their poor starts to the season.
Kilmallie though are different. No doubt there are some churlish guys on the other side of the River Lochy rubbing their hands together at their misfortune, but the truth is that they have had a desperately unlucky season. League wise they have not been consistently unbeatable but to lose out in all three competitions at the last hurdle must be very hard to bear. The Glen know that it is like given the way they lost out in the Balliemore and the League last season-and the Kilmallie lads have never been anything less than sporting when they have been defeated –narrowly- by the Glen. They are a credit to their management and to the sport. They are a young team yet-and they certainly possess some players-Stewart, Rodgers, Lavin, MacNiven, Carmichael and Stoddart who are clearly Premier League class and they must be in the frame for next season.
The snap is of the guys in the aftermath of victory but where was the trophy? Unfortunately not at Blairbeg for the presentation. Now everything is a bit of an anticlimax especially when we receive the trophy at Canal Park -but then that is perhaps what you have to get used to in the world of shinty.

Scottish Blogs