Thursday, July 01, 2010

Heroes earn slot in Strathdearn final

There’s a lot been happening in the world of Glen shinty though you wouldn’t know it if you’ve been looking at the D recently. No reason really except perhaps that a little disappointment has set in at the perceived lack of Premier success with the top side. The presence of a functioning website has also removed some pressure.
Apart from that, truth to tell the results don’t seem that bad and any defeats in recent times can give some comfort in as much as the games have been close. A 2-1 away defeat at Newtonmore with the boys from the open moor hoping to win things, does not seem too bad.
The game at Fort William was a 3-1 but some serious players were not on the pitch- and if they had been, a result was there for the taking. It is good however to see Big Calum Miller hitting the target and if the other front guys can touch the net too then there are games to be won. Any side coming to Blairbeg hoping for an easy two points really ought to think again- and there are a number of home games which are winnable as well as a trip to Kyles which, given they edged us out by the odd goal in the first fixture and the possibility they might be haining themselves for some cup success, could be a points possibility.
The real trick will be to score some goals- and although some sides haven’t been really outscoring us- it just seems a while since we hit a goodly number in the same game.
One of the pictures included in this blog is that of the under 17s who gave a good account of themselves at the Bught on MacTavish Saturday after that fascinating match between Kilmallie and Kingussie. You have to feel sorry for Kilmallie - the Wing Centre can hardly believe he has just written that! - losing out when by any normal standards they would have thought they had done enough to win coming back like they did. But you cannot judge Ronald by normal standards though it’s comforting to see that even the great man can miss a penalty. Comforting but then on reflection you realise that the miss did not count: you just know that if it had been vital he would have netted it. Kingussie boss Stevie Borthwick won’t like to admit it but without Ron the cup would have been in Kilmallie – and the goal which did the business was number 3 because without Ronald’s ability to take the pressure and keep his nerve surrounded by infidels , then there would have been no third goal.
The temptation is also to say that without the queer rules in the Celtic, Kyles would have had that cup too but that game happened in a far away parish where they do things differently and it is perhaps not up to the Wing Centre to comment.
The under 17s struggled a little against Lochaber in the early part of the match but credit must be given to them in the second half when with some help from the wind they maintained a more consistent pattern of pressure and young Jack Hosie picked up two goals to make the final total 4-2. The Bught was as usual in fine condition though to be fair it is just a little too long for under-14s though who would ever prevent them playing on Shinty’s own “Hampden”.
Talking of which it just might be in the Camanachd Association’s interests to keep a watching brief on the park given that Inverness City FC have no home. The Wing Centre does not want to be unfair to ‘Ness City-the fact that the Town has only one good standard local team (Clach) because it allowed its Highland League clubs to disappear meant that local footballers cannot play at a high amateur standard. However, the Highland League clubs flogged off their grounds so big George could have his prawn sandwiches at Celtic Park- and it is now a bit rich for City to expect the Council to bail them out at the expense of Shinty’s northern stadium. Bluntly, City entered the juniors without meeting the rather odd criteria the juniors want- a village team like Burghead can have their own village pitch but City can’t play at Grant Street- so perhaps the honest thing for City to do should be to drop back to their previous status and concentrate on the amateurs.
Whatever, the Camanachd Association bringing as it does televised shinty to the Bught and by extension to the Town, cannot afford to be complacent on this one.
Rant over and back to the point with the news mentioned in the headline. Hendo’s band of brothers are doing well despite injuries to Iain Macleod and “Boo Boo” Fraser. They have only gone and beaten Lochaber to make it into the final of the Strathdearn for the first time since 2002. The Wing Centre went to the game and watched in horrified fascination as a 3-0 early lead was gradually whittled away by a stuffy Lochaber side until the Glenners were hanging on to victory. The Glen scorers were Ruaraidh Cameron with two neat goals and Ewan Menzies who finished off a fortunate third from some distance. The second half saw Connor Sweeney get two back and the spectators were treated to a last 25 minutes of growing alarm as the red and whites pushed to take the game into extra time and darkness. The highlight of this period was the contest between Lochaber’s Angus Morrison and the Glen’s own Iain Macdonald: a vintage tussle of good humour, wee tricks, pushes trips and fine stick work from two skilled operators who went through all of shinty’s black arts in an attempt to outdo each other. With Garry Mackintosh in the goal however there was never a chance that Lochaber were going to get the equaliser though it is easy to say that now.
Then Hendo’s crowd had another match this time in the League against Fort William and –guess what – they won. The big story of the night was that Dunc Achtuie was back in the jersey. With brother Ewan “Boo Boo” out injured and big Donald Dunain at the Highland Show, there might have been no Frasers in the Glen team for the first time in 50 years or so- but Dunc came to the rescue and what is more he enjoyed his outing which is why he gets his pic at the top of the article. Ben Hosie opened the scoring in 6 minutes and Ewan Brady doubled the advantage in 9 but then Fort’s Bobby Macmillan scored a super goal which perhaps made the guys in black and red a little nervous.
Ewan Brady hit the third however just after the interval and though Fort pushed hard and were perhaps a little too vigorous at times, Glen held on to seal the game. For the record the Wing Centre thought Kelvin Mackenzie had an excellent outing up front as did youngster Euan Lloyd at wingback. Calum Smith was his usual solid self but the tone was set by the excellent Gary Smith and of course Mr “Iron Curtain” Macdonald himself at the back. Fort had no answer to them.
Now the Heroes have the chance of the treble : a Strathdearn final, a Sutherland semi against Kyles at home-(ridiculous really: it should be on a neutral pitch) and the League looks do-able for the second year in a row.
Interesting times indeed!

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