Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh Look, Dad ! It’s them off the Telly.

Glenurquhart 2 Kingussie 0
All this week, Glenurquhart Shinty Club’s media stars were keeping a low profile but how did a group of home town boys have their heads turned by the paparazzi in such a short time. Well it all happened like this.
Just as the Wing-Centre was concentrating on the Glen Shinty Festival as helper to announcer Matthew MacIver, the rumour ran round the edge of the Astro-turf that not only were the Glen team of the year but that they were through.
“Through what ?” said Jimmac, who had master minded the whole event for the youngsters.
“To the final of the Marine Harvest, Clash of the Camans at An Aird”, said the child who could work the mobile phone.
Which meant that Whytie had to go round the various sideshows and pinch some kids to make up a full squad with subs and everything. Arran, who had been in charge of the “Speed Dribbling for Primary 7 and under” was also persuaded to go.
The full horror of what Smack had done at An Aird was quickly common knowledge. Mr Mackintosh had seemingly gone into goal and stopped all the Inveraray penalties- a thing which as a top class goalie he is always liable to do. Then his Blackberry had pinged out a reminder that he was due to play his accordion at some dance or other: now the Glen were into a final and no goalie had made the trip from the Heartland.
Davy Emery? Gone fishing. Garry Mac? Babysitting. Big Peter? At the golf. Ryan Brady? Needed for the festival. Tommy McKenna? Playing bowls.
Cometh the hour - cometh the man. Arise Sir Iain, Baronet of St Ninians and the Temple. You proved your worth when your Glen had need of you.
Quite simply stand in goalie Iain Macleod had a stand out game: he was in the zone the whole match. He is a competitor –the Wing Centre has observed this determination and drive in him when he was up against Kingussie in the reserve match earlier in the season - and he provided a secure platform for the win. He pulled off precisely 12 fine saves including one from Paul Gow which he took in the air and another direct from a corner which made for spectacular TV. The rest were with club and feet and must have undermined the confidence of the youngsters in the Kingussie front line as well as breaking the hearts of Kevin Thain and Paul Gow.
Let’s leave aside the absence of Ronald - goodness knows he will be back soon enough - but the Glen were a number of lads short themselves- what with Lewis Maclennan ,”Dickson” Maclennan and Drew Maclennan absent along with Paul Mackintosh and latterly Smack himself. Arran is still injured and Gregor McCormack also missed the roll call - so it was a depleted squad which faced up to a less powerful than usual Kingussie line up.
As a match it made happy watching in the Glen. Indeed Andrew Corrigan posted the Glen’s intentions within 5 minutes when he struck a powerful shot direct on to keeper Andrew Borthwick which the big man dealt with tidily.
After a period of nice play in which the Glen front men moved the ball about neatly, making full use of the wide An Aird wing spaces, the Glen took the lead. Andrew Corrigan who with Neale Reid was the pick of the Glen front men, fired a low ball across the middle. Calum Miller neatly dummied it and young Ben Hosie fed it through to Reid who smashed it home from the right hand side of the goal. Two minutes later Hosie again created a good chance when he played in Miller but the big forward had his shot saved by Borthwick. Glen continued to press as the half time whistle approached and Reid continued to turn the wing back finding space behind him on the wing while Macleod was doing his duty at the far end. Sadly the Kingussie defence showed their frustration with a nasty flick up into Corrigan’s face as he tried to run the ball through: the TV audience were then treated to the Kingussie defenders trying to claim that bad was good and that somehow the foul was not a foul. No doubt the Dell boys will get more media savvy as the year goes on because when they watch it again they will feel that they are better than that : at any rate Mr Cameron handled it well except that he should probably have booked Louis Munro for loose stick work.
There was also a careless swing at Billy Urquhart by another Kingussie youngster - and the Wing Centre admires their reaction in a perverse sort of way, he is also aware that it is not 1978 and with TV cameras present boys need to maintain discipline.
The winning Glen goal came in 61 minutes when B en Hosie flicked a ball in the air on to Calum Miller who knocked it on to Billy Urquhart. Superbill - now the Glen top scorer - fired it past Andrew Borthwick from 10 yards.
That was it really because the Kingussie forward line were never going to get past Barr, Reid , Mackintosh and Macdonald – and anything beyond them was dealt with by Macleod.
The real fun came in the last quarter when the media frenzy began. Glen players began to fall to the ground in order to be subbed. This allowed young lads like Calum Smith and Brad Dickson to come on and the experience of playing in a senior final will stay with them for ever.
Those who left the field were interviewed but none were better at the questions than the Managerial Double act, Bill and Dave. They look hard for a start what with the shinty scars on their faces: besides them Terry Butcher appears to be a wuss . Many a maidenly heart in Straths far and wide - though probably not the nearest one - must have skipped a beat at the brusque fluency with which they took to punditry.
The camera loves EJ of course just as much as EJ once loved the camera and he spoke well as did Billy Urquhart , Calum Miller and of course Mr Macdonald, captain of the side. If there was a real shinty industry with pundits at the table commenting on games then apart from Kenny Ross, the rest would have to be Glenners although none can sit in a deck chair in shorts as well as Gary Innes.
The Wing Centre was however waiting for a few words from John Barr who always handles the media well and Stuart Reid who is at ease in front of his own web cam. Why did hero of the day Iain Macleod not get interviewed? Still if the guys want to be real media stars like Jimmy Gow and Drew McNeill , they will have to win the Premier and the Macaulay - but before then the ywill have to put in half an hour each Wednesday at media training.
Back in the real world where the kids play shinty the glory in the Primary 5 section went to Kirkhill who after overcoming Loch Duich in the semi went on to beat Lovat in the big one, the Glen festival Shield. Lovat had knocked out Beauly in their semi.
In the Primary 7s Lovat were awarded the Peter English Quaich with a victory over Loch Duich after again beating Beauly in the semi. Loch Duich had themselves got there by beating Achtertyre in the semi.
Where did the Glen and Strathglass come in? Not at the top. But we hope to do better next year when we also hope that Skye and Glengarry and the Inverness Gaelic School will be able to attend.
The pictures here should be of the kids but the Wing Centre does not have any, so if James Gallagher or Alan Macpherson can access a snap of a winning team and is happy to send them here , up they will be loaded. Failing that we’ll just have to make do with the Glen. Thanks to BBC Alba for the stills and Iain Ferguson of the Write Image for the pics. Naturally we are pleased with Marine hHarvest for the opportunity to win something, even if our first siverware of the season happened to be wooden..

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lochaber men fail to reive the Glen -yet again

Premier League Glenurquhart 2 Lochaber 1

North Division 2

Glenurquhart 3 Kinlochshiel 0

The opening Glen goal came quickly in this Premier match. From the initial centre won by Lewis Maclennan the ball came wide to Neale Reid. He slipped the ball round the wingback and slid it inside to Andrew Corrigan who drew the Lochaber full back towards him before sending a pass out wide right to Billy Urquhart. Superbill-we now have to call him that - clipped the ball first time low past Lochaber keeper Angus Morrison. There were 38 seconds on the clock- and after worries about swine flu all week, it seemed a perfect opening to a game for the fans of the Black and Reds. Indeed even if wee Annie herself had been there in the Cattlethieves colours, she would have been delighted at such a clinical finish though she would never have admitted it.
If only the game had stayed in that vein- but sadly it didn’t.
The Glen did show up on top however for most of the first half hour with Billy Urquhart and Neale Reid looking at times as if they were going to run riot while Lewis Maclennan played the full centre role to perfection. The superb timing of his first time hits not only lifted the pressure on the centreline time and again but also placed the Lochaber back division repeated pressure .A few saves from Morrison plus a ball over the bar from Billy and a fierce drive into the side net from Neale Reid were however scant reward for all the Glen dominance in this period. There also began to grow a tiny suspicion that this Lochaber side were a team that could play good efficient shinty-no team managed by Ally Ferguson or Duncan Kelly was ever going to be poor-and if it were not for the fact that Andrew Macdonald, Ally Mackintosh, Stuart Reid and especially John Barr were fiercely competitive in their defensive tackles the Lochaber forwards might have had more time on the ball and thus had more opportunities to test Stuart Mackintosh. At this stage they did not though that was to change later in the match.
The turning point came in the 30th minute when Glen Wing Centre Dave “Dixon” Maclennan received a nasty head wound in a tackle. No blame to the Lochaber lad- the exchanges between the pair were always hard and quick in a match where the ante was gradually being upped- and Dixie was unlucky in that particular exchange. Up to that point, Dixie had just been on top in a very close contest but it was clear that the head knock was quite severe and so the match was held up until an ambulance could be called. The game was stopped for upwards of 15 minutes and when it restarted the Glen somehow got straight into top gear once again and how. With Andy Corrigan back in the centreline and Calum “Rhino” Miller on at full forward, the ball was hit out again to the right of the “D” where the big forward threw off the attentions of the Lochaber fullback and smashed the ball fiercely into the net to put the Glen two up.
From that point on in the restarted opening half the Glen began to wane a little: the wing centre picked out Lochaber buckshee back Neil Macdonald as the most obviously inspirational player. He stuck close to Eddie Tembo and gave everything in the tackle and truthfully began to influence things at the back to the extent that when the ball did come up the Glen forwards were able to make it stick up front less and less. Equally sharp was the right wing back and the class of Shaun Nicholson began to show through. In fact he brought a series of excellent saves out of Stuart Mackintosh of the sort the crowd loved to see and of the sort that made Shaun himself put his hand to his head in disbelief. But then if Shaun were to think about it for a moment he would reflect that “Smack” is a superb goalie, that saving these shots is what he is there for and after all, since Shaun was having to shoot from miles out it proves his forwards were not able to get anything on goal off the Glen back four. So they were good saves but nothing came back from Smack to set up the Lochaber forwards and one feels that even if it did the defenders would have smashed it away.
John Barr was at the heart of this defensive operation which was bolstered in the second half by Andy Corrigan moving into the defence where his speed added to the security and peace of mind of the management duo, while Ally Mac went into the centreline.
About halfway through the second half, Eddie Tembo came off and Gregor McCormack went on at right wing forward. From that point on the Lochaber pressure began to ease since the Glen began to hit the ball down the right hand channel and Greg was able to make it stick up there for longer than had been the case at the start of the game.
The Reivers’ camp followers on the far side also attempted to play their part and loudly protested every Glen challenge and it is with a hanging head that the Wing Centre admits that he began to do the same- shouting “kick” when it wasn’t, shouting “foul” when it might not have been. It’s the same old scenario that he wrote about in a National League game at Lochaber two/ three years back though at that time-there being so few spectators, it was the players who were doing it. Who would be a ref?
In the end young Zander Ferguson got a late goal back for Lochaber though from where the Wing Centre was stood it appeared that he kicked the ball first before he hit it in from the right. To be fair to him the Lochaber goal judge put up his flag at the time of the incident though he would be wise to say in Lochaber that he was simply acknowledging the goal. In the Glen we feel he was calling it right and fair play to him if he was. Whatever happened the goal stood but with 85 minutes on the clock Lochaber were unable to pinch a draw.
Not an easy match then but a satisfying win all the same against a team which took two points off the League leaders Fort William on Day 1 of the Premier season.

Earlier the Heroes kept up their winning streak with a 3-0 victory over a competent Kinlochshiel second squad. It took until the second half however before the Glen managed to make the onion bag bulge though a fair number of first half chances were wasted by the Glen or saved by the Shiel keeper. The break through came just after the interval when Calum Fraser finished nicely after being set up neatly by Stuart Morrison.
Morrison himself was next on hand in 50 minutes to put home a penalty awarded after Calum Fraser had been pulled down in the zone. Finally youngster Ewan Brady added to his impressive recent tally of goals by sinking a penalty granted after the ball had been kicked in the box by a Shiel defender .

One of this week’s pictures has its own charm- were the Lochaber men planning a long weekend away from home? They certainly took enough luggage with them.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Glen hit Cabers for Six in the Sutherland

Sutherland Cup
Glenurquhart 6 Caberfeidh 1

This was yet another fine win for the Glen seconds notwithstanding the fact that it was to be overshadowed by the win against Kyles later in the afternoon. Make no mistake about it Mr MacLean’s Cabers outfit are no mugs and when ex-Boleskine player Garry Maclennan came on in the second half it was clear that the Blues intended to put up a fight. The Glen however have exceeded expectations this season so far and if they can keep their personnel together-including their youngsters – then there is every chance they can give Victor and Willie Can a game when the showdown eventually comes.
Key to the Glen’s success are the Old Heads - venerable players who would hold down a place in most first teams in North Division 1 and with a bit of training could have a stab at the Premier. The backbone of the side consists of Iain Macdonald at full back, Garry Smith at buckshee, Iain Macleod at full centre and Stuart Morrison and Calum Fraser up front. Add to that Dave “Chips” Smart and “Boo Boo” Fraser whom the Wing Centre considers could be in the top side if they wanted it and you have a team. Add to that a clutch of youngsters – two have already gone up to the Premier side - and the impression is that if the luck holds and we get some sensible referees then the Glen have a chance of more silver even although the Strathdearn was allowed to slip away at the ‘Garry.
The opening ten minutes at Blairbeg on Saturday saw the Glen serve up some lovely stuff with Ewan Brady, veteran Stuart Morrison and half forward Dave Smart putting together a series of interconnected plays which tested the Cabers defence. At the other end keeper Dave Emery, back between the stick after injury – Garry Mackintosh had deputised more than ably- also had to look lively to smother a Cabers attack.
In 18 minutes though Brady turned neatly and from the resultant through ball Stuart Morrison fired a fierce drive which came back off the keeper into the path of Brady who made no mistake with his finish.
The second Glen goal came in 25 minutes when Dave Smart picked up the ball at buckshee and drove a long ball home very much out of the blue. The Glen went three up in the next minute when a neat touch from Morrison fell on to the caman of Calum “Jock” Fraser and the big striker finished the move beautifully.
At that point, and for well into the second half, the game seemed to die somewhat – and while Cabers cannot be blamed for wanting to hang on the Glen seemed to lack some urgency in their approach. With recently injured first teamer Paul Mackintosh on the bench– and the Kyles boys arriving to prepare for the next match- it seemed as if the prevailing mood in everyone along the sideline- except Hendo and big Mike- was for the game to be over and done with.
Then Andrew MacMaster - a famous Cabers name- got a fine goal back for the Blues. 3-1 : if Cabers were to get another one could it all turn pear shaped. It was now decision time.
Would Paul Mac come on? In the absence of Corky and Stuart Mac there was every reason to believe he would be needed for the Premier match. In the end, with youngster Calum Smith having to go off because of a hand injury, Paul Mac received the call and within five minutes he had made his mark on the game with a fantastic strike into the roof of the net to make it four.
Paul Mac’s was the strike that galvanised the Glen. Young Kelvin Mackenzie then got his first start in the second team and caused the stand to jump to its feet as he ran through and fired a shot goal wards but it whistled just past the post. Brad Dickson who fetched and ran his heart out all afternoon began to push forward and all of a sudden Dave Smart completed his hat trick - the second one in as many weeks-with two excellent finishes and the Glen were coasting on the back of a 6-1 victory into the semi of the Sutherland. Let’s hope the draw is kind.

Two photos this week - one of Brad printed with the permission of Dave Fallows from his Shintyworld website ( It is of a quality which the Wing Centre can only dream of and much beyond the capacities of however many megapixels are credited to his Nokia Phone . The old phone however was certainly up to the job of capturing young Kelvin on his debut.

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