Friday, May 15, 2009

Shiel-Shocked Glen Pay the Penalty but Hendo’s Heroes Rave on

Glenurquhart 1 Kinlochshiel 2 (aet) - Camanachd Cup
Glenurquhart 3 Inveraray 0 – Sutherland Cup

There was a wee bit of confusion in the minds of the Glen supporters over the timing of this match. The Wing Centre got it nearly right by coming down at the back of twelve to find the game had just started but some of the other members of the loyal black and red clan were under the misapprehension that the Camanachd Cup game for the big teams was due to start at 2.30pm and that the morning shift would be occupied by the Heroes. Whatever happened, by the time the Wing Centre arrived at Blairbeg, Kinlochshiel were in the lead thanks to a goal by Scott Maclean who had followed up on a ball which had struck the post.
The Glen were quickly back in business when Billy Urquhart struck the rebound home after a drive from Lewis Maclennan came back off ’Shiel keeper Graham Kennedy. Glen then took the game to the visitors with a passion much credit is due to Bert’s Boys who kept their defensive line in good order and the match reached the halfway mark with no additional scoring. If anyone is to be picked out for praise it has to be big Shiel full back Paul Macrae who was excellent – sure in the air, faster on the ground than the Wing Centre expected but above all extremely accurate with the stick.
The second half opened with Shiel on top and they kept up the pressure for most of the half though the Glen did get back at them in the last quarter. That Shiel did not hit the net was due to the excellence of John Barr at the back-how we could have done with him against Fort last week- but keeper Stuart Mackintosh was also on song keeping out attempts from Scott Maclean and Steven Callander.
Glen began to come forward with more confidence in the last third of the game and began to ring the changes with the replacement of Gregor McCormack with Calum Miller. Lewis Maclennan had an excellent chance to win the game but his flick from close range hit Kennedy and the opportunity was lost.
The first half of extra time very much followed the previous pattern of the match with neither side able to penetrate. Things changed however after the whistle and if truth were to be told Shiel looked the fitter of the two sides and they got their reward when Gordy Macdonald followed up a ball which came back off keeper Mackintosh and was brave enough to steer it home despite collecting a nasty face cut for his pains.
Glen woke up at this point and they mounted a last ditch assault on the Shiel goal as a result of which in the last minute they were awarded a penalty. Kennedy then became an instant Shiel hero when he got his feet to Neale Reid’s strike and with that the game was over.
While the home camp were upset and it was possible to point to Glen chances which were not taken the truth is that on the day Shiel looked the livelier side and if you were to look at the game with an unbiased eye- which the Wing Centre certainly never would - then you would have to say Shiel deserved the win and no-one typified their spirit more than centre man Steven Callendar. Just back from a bad chest infection, Callendar ran himself into the ground for the jersey- from the Wing Centre’s point of view the wrong jersey because Steven is an inhabitant of the Glen though his roots are in the West. You never know though, perhaps he’ll make a Glenner yet.
For the Glen the result was a disappointment but with Andrew Corrigan being added to the missing list along with big Arran and Paul Mac the side was not at its strongest. The return of Mr Tembo though was very welcome and his powerful presence in the second half of extra time caused Shiel plenty problems. The fact is that from here the only way is up!!
More important that the result perhaps was the crowd. Indeed the attenders were very high class. Among the spectators we welcomed Ally Ferguson, former Scotland supremo and present boss of Lochaber, Drew McNeill , boss of current Camanachd Cup holders Fort William – and showing that his links with shinty never die, Inverness Caley keeper Michael “Ikey” Fraser was also in the considerable crowd who took in the game of the day.
The crowd did hang on until the next match – a Sutherland Cup tie against an Inveraray side who had been deposited at the side of Blairbeg in good time by their first team boys who were off over the hill to play the Beauly Guttersparrows. Because the first team game had run on however- the ‘Rary boys had to change in the shed- and fulsome apologies for that to the Royal Burgh boys who surely had not bargained on getting into their strip in such humble premises.
When the game finally did get underway it was clearly always going to be a win for the home side although the visitors, ably marshalled by veteran John Smillie did put up a determined fight. The Glen should have gone ahead in 5 minutes when a strike by Calum Jock Fraser hit the net, only to be ruled offside. The Glen upped the tempo and with Iain Macleod carrying on where he had left off the day before Inveraray were soon on the back foot. After Ross MacAulay had driven the ball over the bar on the quarter hour mark Stuart Morrison found the back of the net in 26 after a drive from Fraser had bounced back off the keeper. Soon afterwards Morrison grabbed another goal after latching on to a long ball put in by MacAulay who was having a fine game.
There was no more scoring in the first half and nor was there any for quite some time in the second period until finally Calum Jock Fraser put his name on the score sheet with a left hand drive past a beleaguered ‘Rary keeper in the 77th minute. There was as always a further twist in the Heroes never ending story of shinty confusion when Ben Hosie, who had finished the game against Shiel in the top team forward line, missed a penalty. What was he taking a penalty for? Well it seems he won the “Scissors, Paper, Stone” competition which the Bairns play when they are awarded a penalty. No doubt they practise it as part of their rehearsal of moves on a Wednesday night.
The question the Wing Centre asks is “Why wasn’t it taken by Garry Mac? “ Garry is a welcome returnee to the side between the sticks- and he certainly clawed one fairly accurate Inveraray drive out of the sky and looked to be , within reason, on his toes.
All of which takes us to this week’s photos. In one we see Ikey hanging out with his Homeboys and the other is Cleansheet Gazza himself smiling, it would appear, for the first time in some weeks.
There are of course two photos that cannot be used. One was of young Corky. He could not be snapped because he was not there! Why? He appears to have met a young lady from as his mum puts it “God’s Own Country.” So she is not a Sgiathanach or one of the Glasaich then? The boy has some sense then and he cannot be blamed for taking a week off against a side whom we usually tend to beat.
There is however another photo which cannot be used either for copyright reasons – but it must be one of the sports photos of the year. It is in the WHFP and it shows young Mr Reid upset after missing that penalty. What makes it a special photo is that the hand which is patting his shoulder and consoling him is that of a Shiel player. Shiel have just gone through to the next round and yet a Shiel player can find time to commiserate with an opponent who has just missed a big chance. It sums up the spirit of shinty and we should cherish it. Well done Shiel.
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