Sunday, October 03, 2010

Will Hendo’s Heroes go up to Div 1 or will they vote to carry on in Div 2?

That is the big question facing Glen’s second team now after their third League success in three years. It has to be a record in Glen terms: 2008 Div 3 champs; 2009 Div 2 Champs; 2010 Div 2 Champs again. And so the question has to be posed? Do the boys go up or do they stay put?
Certainly North Div 1 is a very difficult league packed with teams which play shinty to a high standard and if the truth be told it is not easy to get out of it as Kilmallie, Lochaber and Skye have found. Would playing in Div 1 with a bunch of kids and older players bring on Glen shinty given that the team will have to play sides like Shiel and Lochaber two teams that have plenty players who can cut it with the best in the Premier? Well who can say – but this is a question which the committee will have to grapple with over the next few days so that Astie and his team can start planning for next year. No doubt Mr C and the A-team were looking for an answer before yesterday afternoon’s home victory over Lovat confirmed the destination of the trophy, but why the hurry? Glen Shinty Club are due to meet at some point this week where the subject will get earnest consideration and players and officials will be canvassed for their views on the matter – so until then let silence prevail .
All of this should not distract us from celebrating the fact of two excellent home victories against good quality opposition-Kinlochshiel and Lovat. Of the two the Shiel victory- for all that it was not acclaimed in the West Highland Free Press-was the more convincing ending in a 4-1 victory for the red and blacks with what on the face of it was a somewhat weakened team. Not that that seems to be a problem nowadays-indeed part of the bother Mike and Hendo face is keeping everyone who wants to play involved.
Glen started against Shiel as they tend to against most opposition at high tempo and within 2 minutes David Smart –who missed the Strathdearn final because of holidays- had a shot on target which was saved by Shiel keeper Iain Cameron. Kelvin Mackenzie, desperate to add to his haul of goals, was next on strike and indeed had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for an earlier infringement and a penalty awarded. Mackenzie took the hit himself but Cameron pulled off a competent save. Ewan Brady was next to try his luck and forced a corner out of the Shiel defence and from the resulting cross Mackenzie saw his drive fly over the ball.
Glen finally made the breakthrough in 20 minutes when wingback Calum Smith, playing with a damaged hand, fired a long ball up to full forward Gregor MacCormack. He tucked it into the path of Mackenzie and the youngster made no mistake from close range.
Ten minutes later came the Glen’s second – again from the club of Mackenzie. This time Daniel Mackintosh moved a ball inside to Ross MacAulay who again found MacCormack. Once again the veteran fed Mackenzie as he burst through behind the Shiel backs and the finish was a formality.
Glen’s third came in 52 minutes via Ewan Brady after Daniel Mackintosh had teed the ball up for him and finally youngster Ewan Lloyd hit the net five minutes from time after Ewan Menzies had guided the ball back into his path.
Shiel’s reply came with a penalty which was more or less the last hit of the game: Duncan Macrae was the scorer.
The same flat out style in the first half saw a 2-1 win over Lovat but given that Lovat had their full under 21 squad out (not SM the keeper though)as well as Jimmy Mackenzie and Drew Howie the result was harder to come by. If one is to be honest the positive score was due to solid defensive work from Ian Macdonald, Calum Smith, Donald Fraser and Gary Smith. Gary Mackintosh in goals had a good game but looking back on it is hard to pick out more than two serious saves that he was forced to make though there was the usual close calls and tidying up to do. The Matheson lads had opportunities but Glen just pressurised them too much and they failed to connect with a telling strike.
Glen’s whirlwind start saw a number of early chances scorned and young Lovat keeper Chris MacCallum – who now seems to be sporting a beard as well as his trademark glasses- was clearly back to his sharp old heart breaking best pulling off two neat stops from shots by MacCormack and Mackenzie.
Glen however opened in 12 minutes when Ross MacAulay slipped a ball in to David Smart. He knocked the ball into Gregor MacCormack and he blasted home a beauty from all of 18 yards. By this stage Kelvin Mackenzie was in outstanding form and more or less anything which was loose between the midfield and half forward became his own special property. Lovat had no defender who could live with his pace and in the end the black and whites decided to shore up their back line by pulling Jimmy Mackenzie out of wing centre and placing him at full back to handle MacCormack.
However Lovat were up against it and the Glen front men pulled the defence in different directions with Ruaraidh Cameron always creative and Daniel Mackintosh moving the ball at pace into the danger zone. In 17 minutes Kelvin Mackenzie doubled Glen’s advantage with a fine strike from distance and then Daniel Mackintosh had the ball in the net only to find it flagged off for an infringement at the other side of the D.
By this stage, if Glen could have finished clinically, Lovat would have been 5 down but it was not to be. Gradually towards the end of the half the Kiltartans Proud managed to get more midfield possession and then in an atmosphere of growing hysteria in the Glen defence a Lovat forward was grassed. In or Out?
” In” said the only man who mattered, ref Graham Cameron and up stepped James Macpherson and hammered the ball on to the post.
“Retake” said Mr Cameron- and this time Macpherson rammed the ball into the roof of the net. 2-1 at half time. Interestingly this is the second retake of a penalty that the young man has scored this season, so he is obviously a cool character.
The second half remained unrecorded in the Wing Centre’s notebook. Why? His heart was too much in his mouth to note much. Lovat had a bit of pressure and won a few fouls close to the D but they could not do much. Glen had plenty balls down in the Lovat defence but it has to be said that their young backs don’t mess about and their sure clearances for distance make it clear they are a side with some potential.
Ruaraidh Cameron had a screamer of a shot which MacCallum tipped over then was replaced up front for a while by Ian Macleod as the Glen attempted to kill off the game. Ewan Menzies and Ewan Brady also came on and Kelvin Mackenzie moved back to half forward in an attempt to change the pattern but nothing seemed to be effective – and so the Glen had to hang on under increasing Lovat pressure in the last ten minutes until the clock ran down.
It was a game and a half - and as these two sides had been neck and neck all season it probably could not have been a more fitting end to what has turned out a rewarding if rollercoaster season.
Anyway, Graham Cormack of Camanachd PLC presented the trophy and medals, incidentally speaking well about both clubs and the game itself and then pics were taken which you can enjoy here. The Champs naturally and also included is a snap of them taking in Graham Cormack's wee homily.Recorded also is one of loyal fans Alan and Ina Wilson who never miss a match though, whisper it, Alan’s thoughts were probably at An Aird. As if!! He is smart enough after all these years to let Ina believe he is a Drummer through and through.
As for the question on everyone’s lips-will they or won’t they?
Your guess is as good as the Wing Centre’s but at least he has a vote. He knows what way he will be voting too.

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