Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garry defies "The Garry"

Glenurquhart 3 Glengarry 2
This could have been a scary game given that the Glen took to the field with a somewhat weakened team since three of the lads had to make the trip to Kingussie with the first team to cover for the injuries picked up in the Oban Camanachd game. Garry are a good team and a mature one at that but the Glen also have a Garry of their own- and he it was whose penalty save made the difference at one crucial point in the game. In the end Glen came away with a hard fought but satisfying win and more importantly it was a win which underlined the value of playing youngsters in the side.
The Garry are a club for which the Wing Centre has a lot of respect and happy memories- Why it was at the Garry field as Mr Reid reminds us that the Glen side of ‘77 famously beat Ballachulish to lift the Strathdearn so many years ago. It was at the Garry too that Hendo’s Heroes picked up the League trophy last season – and so when the match started at Blairbeg the Wing Centre was hopeful but not overly confident of a positive result.
Truth was that the Garry side played neat shinty up front in the opening period with Stewart Gregory and Steven Brady looking lively and skilful- and the Glen keeping them out but only just. At that point the Glen centreline worked up a little and with Ewan “Boo Boo” Fraser driving them on helped by youngster Ewan Brady and full centre Ian Macleod the ball began to move more often up towards the Garry goal where young Daniel Mackintosh was presented with a tricky chance but he just failed to hit the net.
Then came a moment of daftness from Garry wing centre Scott Johnstone when he swung a careless club at Glen‘s Ewan Brady earning himself a fortunate yellow card. The word fortunate is well chosen since the offence was so obvious that it may well have merited a red.
The incident took some of the momentum out of the Glen attack and when referee Duncan Kelly allowed the Garry full centre Steven (D D) Cameron to play a ball forward after he appeared to trip the Glen’s Brady, the faithful in the Balmacaan Stand roared their disapproval. Cameron’s ball however was flicked on neatly by Gregory and forward Kenny Henderson made no mistake with a fine finish in 14 minutes that put the visitors into a 1-0 lead. It was certainly a lead which at that stage of the match was merited- but only just.
The next occurrence of note was the booking of Glengarry’s buckshee forward Steven Brady for swinging across Glen defender Donald Fraser. At that point the Wing Centre felt that the writing was on the wall for the Glen - and he went up the wing for a blether with Matthew Clark a former Glen player and all round nice guy who was on the bench for the Garry. In fact if you hunt back in the archives he features in the “D” when he had a standout game for the red and blacks in Beauly. Matthew was in good tune, enjoying his shinty with the Garry and truthfully the Wing Centre was surprised to see him on the bench.
Gradually the Wing Centre became aware of a subtle change in the atmosphere in the Garry camp. They became quieter and more anxious and so it was time for the Wing Centre to pay attention to the game once again. And what he saw heartened him immensely. For one thing Boo Boo Fraser was playing brilliantly and his shies were immense. For another both David Smart and Iain Macleod were beginning to dominate their respective areas of the field and then after a few missed chances the Glen eventually struck goals. In 35 minutes “Boo Boo” Fraser took one of his massive shies ; the ball was knocked on by Stuart Morrison and finally blasted home from close range by Daniel Mackintosh.
Two minutes later the Glen took the lead when Morrison’s drive was blocked well by Garry keeper Gordy Macdonald – he played well throughout the afternoon- but the rebound fell to Gregor MacCormack who steered it home despite some desperate defending by opposition fullback Michael Brady.
Garry threw themselves a lifeline in the second half when in 58 minutes Steven Cameron scored a well taken goal- and the Glenners of old would probably have been happy with a draw though when Garry Mac had a clash with a Garry forward he not only gave away a penalty but was fortunate not to have been sent to the pavilion, though with Dave “Shutout” Emery standing by as sub-keeper matters were not that critical. In the event Garry took his row in good humour and when Steven Brady hammered the penalty goal-wards what did Garry do but stick out his hand and save.
Brave decision and the right one -for the ball was at that awkward height which tempts a keeper to save it with the stick and at the pace Brady hit it there was no way even Hughie Chisholm would have got it with the club.
Then all of a sudden there was a good burst of play at the shop end prompted by young sub Kelvin Mackenzie and Gregor MacCormack was able to seal the game for the Glen with a fine strike which beat Macdonald all ends up .
There was nothing left to do but hang on to the lead for the final few minutes and by that stage Hendo had pulled old heads like Iain Macleod and Stuart Morrison back to the defence and fired his final sub Euan Lloyd on to face a baptism of fire from the Garry backs. The master stroke was to move Ewan Brady to full centre directly against “Dee Dee” Cameron. Cameron is a fine player but at the end of a long game he did not quite have the legs for the contest and Brady was able to nip in on several vital occasions and slip the ball away and fire it upfield. The youngster would not have managed this at the start but in the last ten minutes of a tough match, he was the right man in the right place at the right time. The ploy worked- the few Garry attacks which actually got through were quickly snuffed out – and the points came home to Blairbeg.
The snap shows the youngsters in the dressing room after the match- they are whacked but Boo Boo can at least manage a smile for his mam.
The game at Kingussie – apparently Ronald Ross and assorted Borthwicks got the goals but reports indicate that Andrew Corrigan had an excellent game which bodes well for Saturday’s four pointer against Lovat. The only thing that causes a little concern is the fact that Bute –or rather Hector –keep picking up points in very unexpected places.
There appears to be an interesting few weeks ahead of us in the World of Camanachd- though the suspicion is that the same cannot be said about the AGM which will be upon us this weekend. At least that will be a relief for the Executive!

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