Saturday, May 28, 2011

Glen teach students a lesson in the Strathdearn

Strathdearn Cup
Glenurquhart 3 Aberdeen University 0

The MacAulay Cup
Glenurquhart v Kingussie. Dont Ask

There are times when the simple chances have to be taken- which is what the Wing Centre attempts to demonstrate with the above headline. In the course of a dozen shinty seasons the opportunity for this headline has not presented itself for a variety of reasons. When we were in the same division as the students we either did not play them in cups or else if we did, we certainly did not teach them a lesson. Indeed the Wing Centre is not even sure whether we taught them an actual lesson this time-though we did at least win. The moral of the intro is a clear one ; take your chances when they come along. No doubt it is a moral which should be applied in life as well as in shinty- though life is admittedly harder than shinty should be-though one is none too sure about the latter when one watches Glen teams, at any level, play.
There has been a lot on the agenda of the Glen this past weekend, the very least of which is the 4-1 defeat in the MacAulay Cup by Ronald Ross and his backup team. Perhaps a sentence or two will be set aside for a comment later on-though it would do no harm to contemplate for a moment the message above. Given the loss in the MacAulay it is clear that main business of the week had to be the defence of the Strathdearn closely followed by the Gala fundraiser at the Loch Ness Inn which followed on later in the afternoon.
The Strathdearn match opened briskly and it has to be said that in the opening few minutes the students played like the masters though they found both Gary Smith and Ian Macdonald in sound form at the back. It was the Glen who posted the early threat however and in this the return to action in the past fortnight of Iain Macleod cannot be underestimated and in 7 minutes tested the Aberdeen keeper who was forced to concede a corner and after a drive from distance for the Glen Centreman.
The Glen front play was as always pleasant to watch and former Scotland boss Fraser Mackenzie provided some neat link play with Daniel Mackintosh who hit a ball across the face of goal but the incoming Calum Fraser was unable to make his shot count.
Glen went ahead however in 11 minutes when Gregor McCormack got on a ball fired up from midfield and his snap shot off his toes came back off the Aberdeen keeper. The rebound was swiftly dispatched by Glen’s Ewan Menzies who was following up closely hoping to profit from the second phase.
Glen continued the pressure and Mackenzie had a drive which flew wide while Daniel Mackintosh saw his attempt fly back off the post. Aberdeen too had their moments and Glen had a let off in 30 minutes when keeper Garry Mackintosh got his club in the way of a net-bound drive and was relieved to see it fly past for a corner. It was Glen however who took the opportunity to double their lead in 36 minutes when Ewan Menzies won the ball out wide on the right and sent it across the face of goal where it was finished off sweetly by youngster Ewan Lloyd.
Glen piled on the pressure and Menzies next came close with a shot which popped over the bar-however with injuries beginning to hamper a number of Glen youngsters particularly James Hurwood in midfield, the tide began to turn in Aberdeen’s favour and in a spell of intense pressure they were thwarted by a great save with his feet by Garry Mackintosh while youngster Daniel Mackintosh who had to be pulled back to cover the gaps left by injury found himself in ref Deek Cameron’s book because of an unsatisfactory challenge.
The second half continued in much the same manner but it has to be said that Aberdeen were much more in this stage of the match though they were unable to make the pressure count. Glen had to shuffle the pack somewhat in the latter stages and in particular Ewan Menzies who had been cruelly denied when an early second half drive came back off the bar had to dig in at wing centre while Daniel Mackintosh also had to do a shift at the back. Youngster Jack Hosie however came on up front as did Rory Maclean and both showed nice touches and a little more experience might have seen Maclean grab a goal after he had got on to a shy from Mackenzie but it was not to be. Hosie however brought a save out of the Aberdeen keeper which cost the students a corner, the result of which was that a chance fell to Gregor McCormack and he fired the ball home for the Glen’s third and ultimately winning goal.
A good result then but one which has warning bells on it – looking at the results, other ties may be more testing since Kingussie and Kilmallie are beginning to look as if they mean business in this competition. A good draw would do no harm. A word too about the inspirational part played in midfield by Iain Macleod. He simply drove his wing centres on in both halves: many times it looked as if the youngsters were out on their feet but MacLeod’s constant encouragement kept them up to the mark. That sort of spirit is priceless as is the skill, strength and determination of defenders like Iain Macdonald and Gary Smith. Quite often the Wing Centre gives praise –rightly so- to the youngsters. Last week’s win was due to the old guys all of whom have had a mention.
Perhaps if the day belongs to anyone it should belong to Gary Smith who not only played effectively and well at buckshee but also received a presentation at the end of the match for his 20+ years of service to the club.
And this of course brings us to the Gala Day at the Loch Ness Inn which turned out to be a rip roaring success with fun for all the family and some delightfully humiliating treatment for Garry “Mac” Mackintosh who was put in the stocks and assaulted with wet sponges. Mr Reid despite his advanced age attempted to ride the bucking bronco and indeed attracted a great deal of money by way of side bets as to how long he would remain glued to the fearsome beast. Waste of time! Micro-seconds but then as everyone at the Club should have known shinty’s elder statesman cannot sit still for a second: he was always like that, even in school.

The highlight of the afternoon was of course the gruesome eating competition in which Neale Reid, Stuart Reid Andrew Corrigan and EJ Tembo attempted to speed eat a very pleasant trifle made by the super chefs at the Inn. Only problem was that halfway through the cream and custard morphed into mince and tatties , the combination of which –especially the mince and the custard- caused nausea to rise in the more refined Reid palates while young Cork, raised on protein pellets and scratch grain in the manner of many other up the Glenners, could not cope either. This left the field free for EJ to take the biscuit, so to speak though even he had to admit he was sorely tested at times. A great day for all then – and thanks to Isla Urquhart and the finance committee for all their enthusiasm and energy which made the day such a success.
The MacAulay? Not much to write home about. Two early goals for the visitors. Then Lewis Maclennan scored to make it 2-1. Glen go in at the interval somehow still in with a chance.
In the second half Glen did a bit more for a time in an attempt to get level and there was a claim for a penalty after king’s keeper Borthwick stopped a shot with his foot. If it had been given it would have been harsh. Then Kingussie scored two more –via Craig Dawson and then in 63mins Ross’s second. From that point on Glen started preparing for the Gala apparently.
If you were to interview Ronald he would say the Glen did not compete: he would not be quite right. There was a spell at the start of the second half when the chance was there to give Kingussie a scare. Glen didn’t take that chance which really puts us back to the little homily at the top where all this started. With a Dad’s Army defence of old guys and kids at the back (Lee Bain excepted) Kingussie need to be played properly if a win is wanted: Glen did not to do it on Saturday but doubtless somebody else will.
Never mind –enjoy the pics instead.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Glen victors in the battle of the Glens

Glenurquhart 3 Glengarry 2
Glenurquhart 1 Glenorchy 0

A double header with all of Scotland’s shinty playing Glens meeting on the same field for the first time ever to see which Glen was best. Truly an historic day!
The first game started off at 12.30 and saw a repeat of the previous week’s match against our neighbours to the south- Glengarry – and it wasn’t long before Glengarry took last week’s advice from the Wing Centre to heart and opened the scoring through Ewan Brady. It was a long shot from all of thirty yards and the flight of the ball deceived home keeper Garry Mackintosh. There were barely two minutes on the clock: it looked like a long afternoon was in prospect.
Yet, Somehow despite this firecracker start the atmosphere at this local derby was different from that of the previous week – and the Wing Centre spent a pleasant time chatting on the road side of the pitch with Newtonmore’s Glen Tonkin who was on his way through to Fort William for his side’s second team match. Glen was most concerned with the fact that The Garry were in the lead- and he let it be known that he would prefer it if they were beaten. When a lad called Glen tells you he wants to see the Glen beat another Glen then you know that it is time to move on and describe the action. Which was difficult because there wasn’t very much of it- and what was more as the game reached the halfway mark, much of the attention of both players and spectators was taken up by the string of fire engines and rescue vehicles racing past, sirens blaring on the A82.
Still despite everything this was a more determined Glen side and what is more Iain Macleod was back in harness for the first time in a fortnight and his wise head certainly paid off when in 40 minutes a ball played down the left wing by Ewan Menzies found him out on the edge of the D. He cut the ball back, Liam Girvan played it across and full forward Calum Miller fired it past Gordy Macdonald in the Garry goal to bring the game level.
The second half continued nip and tuck with the Garry still showing a keen appetite for the fray – and justice was probably done when, after a little carelessness at the back Arran Clark was allowed a free shot in 62 minutes which put Garry 2-1 up.
If the score had remained at that, probably no-one in the Glen except Hendo would have bothered much. But that Hendo! He keeps pushing the boys on and this paid off in 75 minutes when a long ball from the Glen’s Andrew Macdonald got into the same flight groove as Brady’s first half drive with the same end result-a goal.
Then in 82 minutes came the goal which made the whole afternoon worthwhile. With Glen in the ascendency full forward Calum Miller , who had run tirelessly all afternoon chased a ball he had no right to catch, rode two tackles and running beyond keeper Macdonald one handed the ball into the net from the tightest of angles with the precision of a snooker player potting a difficult red.
There was not enough time for the Garry to mount a fight back and so the points, valuable and sadly doing Newtonmore a favour, went to the Red and Blacks.
As a result of what was happening on the A82-it was clear to see that no traffic was passing through the village from the west- the Glenorchy match was held back for half an hour to allow the visiting team as well as Ref Charles Young (Ballachulish) to arrive. This they eventually did after a diversion through Borlum Farm and the game got underway at 3.30 pm.
By this time however there was a rumour going round the ground that there had been a fatality in the accident- and the folks on the side-lines were naturally hoping it was not someone they knew.
Despite the rather muted atmosphere, Glen started strongly and it looked as if with their whirlwind start they would soon rack up a decent score, Ruaraidh Cameron had an early chance but his shot flew over the bar. Then a long shy by Paul Mackintosh set up a chance but Neale Reid’s drive went past the post. An attempt by David Smart was next but again the shot was wide while Calum MacAulay’s snap shot was snuffed out by Glenorchy keeper Andrew Smith.
On 25 minutes MacAulay played Cameron through in front of goals and though he controlled the ball nicely his shot went agonisingly past the post. At the other end Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh had little to do but tidy up though he had to look smart to deal with an attempt at goal from Kieran Mackay. The presence of John Barr at the back and the pace of Andrew Corrigan however meant that Glenorchy never really threatened although there were concerns that the lack of goals was allowing the Argyllshire lads to settle into a game pattern – and to be fair Ewan Murray and Grant Macpherson were beginning to get a handle on the Glen forwards and were looking as if they were rather enjoying doing so.
The half time score of 0-0 was rather more than a travesty but if you don’t score…….. then you don’t score….. and the spectators begin to worry that you will continue not to score.
Fortunately just after halftime the Glen did score but it was as a result of a penalty which emanated from an unfortunate kick by the Glenorchy keeper. Neale Reid stepped up to take the penalty- and scored: the process needs no further elaboration. It went in. Good enough.
And so the game continued. Glen pressing hard, missing chances, hitting the ball high and wide and miles over the bar but without Lewis Maclennan side-lined with a bad back then perhaps …….
In the end one was enough but by that time the news had broken that the victim of the accident was Evan Girvan from Glenmoriston, a young man who had been to school in the Glen, had loads of friends in the Glen and had relatives in both Glen teams.
All of a sudden, the shinty didn’t seem so important any more. We took down the nets and the advertising boards. Then we went home.

The picture is of two goal hero,Calum Miller.

Hit Counter

Free Counter

Friday, May 13, 2011

When Two Glens go to War……..

Sutherland Cup Second Round
Glengarry 2 Glenurquhart 3

If there was ever a match when the Glen came off at half time and the guys on the side-lines looked at each other and said “How did they get away with that?” it has got to be this Sutherland Cup match.
The Glen have had a tricky time in the Sutherland Cup this season what with drawing Newtonmore in the opening round and then this away tie against Glengarry, a side which has been unbeaten this season and which had earlier defeated the Glen 4-0 in a League fixture. Not only that but as each game passes the demands on Glen resources become higher– and with more players being sucked into the top team, the pressure and the rewards for those left become greater.
On Saturday, Glen turned out a team minus Gary Mackintosh, Gary Smith, Iain Macleod, Brad Dickson and Drew Maclennan. However the presence of Lewis Maclennan helped to plug these gaps. Also present were some experienced players like Billy Urquhart, Calum Fraser, Gregor McCormack and of course the peerless Iain Macdonald. These last mentioned have been second team regulars this season though it’s rare for Hendo to have everyone on board at the same time.
The Garry started brightly and quickly put the Glen under early pressure and before the five minute mark Steven ”DD” Cameron had fired two balls past keeper Dave Emery’s posts from distance with the Glen centreline struggling to have an impact. Garry poured forward with Kenny Campbell and John Mackinnon helping Cameron punt balls forward but the Glen backline of Donald Fraser , Daniel Mackintosh and Iain Macdonald , while sometimes pushed to the limit always managed to clear the ball from the danger area- and Dave Emery, though it often appeared that his goal was under threat, had few stops to make.
Garry’s opening goal came from a set piece after Iain Macdonald was harshly penalised for a supposed double swing just outside the D. Macdonald certainly swung at the ball twice but both swings were in the same direction, the second connecting and firing the ball clear- and neither appeared to this commentator to be wild or careless or involved a direction change. In the end of course it is a judgement call and even at this early stage it was becoming clear that the lads from the bottom of the loch-or some of them at least- were becoming agitated at their lack of goal scoring. They converted the free hit though when DD’s slip through fell to Martin Cameron and he tucked the ball home from close range. A few minutes later Garry’s Mackinnon had a fierce shot which went narrowly past.
Glen by that stage had begun to get into the Garry half of the field occasionally and Lewis Maclennan who had been hindered at buckshee forward by the fact that the ball hardly reached him came close with a long range attempt. Gregor McCormack was ploughing a lone furrow up front and came up against some tough and impatient tackling from Garry defender Michael Brady on a number of occasions but Greg is always persistent and his swing, close to his body and off his toes makes him difficult to play against. In 42 minutes Lewis Maclennan worked a ball through to the Glen full forward and McCormack’s snap shot caught the home goalkeeper unawares and, against the run of play, brought the Glen level at 1-1.
Which is precisely where this report started………
And then at the start of the second half Glen wing centre Ross MacAulay drifted a long high ball in from the left. It sailed into the Garry net, much to the consternation of their supporters on the side-lines. Ross is always an accurate hitter from distance and though he has had better games than he had on Saturday, his contribution in shies and with this goal in particular set the Glen up for victory.
Why? Because from that point on the guys began to believe that they were in with a chance.
For Garry, the experience was different. You could see it in the players and in the supporters. How could a side which had appeared to dominate a game now be losing the match? Easy. Fate? Bad luck? Carelessness? Probably all three. However this sort of thing is always liable to happen if you don’t take your chances – and Garry had plenty. What is more the same thing happens everywhere in shinty. In fact, it happened to the Glen against Lovat the other week.
Glen began to pick up pressure and Calum Fraser was a little unfortunate to see a shot go over the bar. Garry did get one back through Ewan Brady when he hit a bouncing ball from the right which surprised Glen keeper Emery and brought the match back level.
The game continued at the same frantic pace but gradually the feeling grew among the visiting support that a positive result for the Glen was only a matter of time. The appearance on the field of Andrew Macdonald and the tactical awareness of the Glen management team which saw Lewis Maclennan moved into the buckshee position plus the tight marking of “DD” Cameron, who had to drop back into midfield, by youngster Fraser Heath, changed the dynamics of the game. Daniel Mackintosh too at wing back had a tight tussle with his under 17 Glen teammate Ewan Brady and the Glengarry youngster, did not get either the room or the service to thrive.
The goal when it came was well taken but the home defence will feel they ought to have done better with a ball which came over from a corner and was missed by the Garry backline. It fell to Glen veteran Stuart Morrison and he gratefully accepted the chance.
There was no way back for Glengarry and shortly afterwards when Ref Innes Wood blew his whistle for full time they had to accept that they were out of the Sutherland Cup for another year. For the Glen it was a hard fought victory which they won with fewer resources available to them than they might have hoped. For Glen the lesson is that in the next round they will have to start quicker and master the centreline sooner if they are to keep alive any hopes they might harbour of getting to Aberdeen for the final.
Is there a lesson for Glengarry? Only if they want to take one. They need to take their chances quicker and perhaps they should focus on playing shinty and moving the ball which they are capable of doing, rather than getting too caught up in the physical side of the game.
For the record Ross MacAulay went into the ref’s book as did Gregor McCormack. For Garry full back Michael Brady was also booked.
By the miracle of Astie’s scheduling, Glengarry are due to come to Blairbeg this Saturday in a league fixture. Goodness knows what Glen side will be there to meet them –but then again Glen are through to the next round of the Sutherland which remains the only one of the reserve trophies that Hendo’s heroes have not won yet and truthfully that’s all that matters.
The pics? The boys at the Garry and the boy-so to speak.The real question is who is that sitting outside on the seat?

The title of the blog? Just a bit of journalistic licence perhaps....

Hit Counter

Friday, May 06, 2011

Have Hendo’s Heroes finally turned the corner?

Hendo’s Heroes 4 Lochalsh, Kintail & Glenshiel Select 1

At 20 past 4 last Saturday afternoon the massed ranks of the black and red faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief. Finally after a number of stuttery performances and disappointing turnouts the chosen 15 managed to string together some coherent patches of play and claim a victory against a Shiel side which certainly was worth more goals than they actually got. Still, who cares apart from Shiel?
The Wing Centre was a little late in getting down to the match probably due to the fact that it took him longer than anticipated to recover his sense of reality after his experiences at the Camanachd AGM the night before (about which more later) and so he had only just arrived at Blairbeg in time to witness Glen centreman Drew MacLennan try a speculative hit from the halfway line. It went in and the Glen took a useful if fortunate lead.
Shiel fought back fiercely and the contest was at its toughest in the centreline with ,truthfully, honours shared. On the few occasions Shiel did threaten, the presence of Donald Fraser , Iain Macdonald and the evergreen Dave Emery were enough to protect the lead- and then just on 41 minutes Daniel Mackintosh hit a second. The Wing Centre was not looking at the time: he was at the other end of the park congratulating Tony Carroll on his Glen Lotto win.
At the end of the match your trusty narrator asked young Dan about his goal and it was apparently a very fine one indeed, well controlled and skilfully dispatched with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of skill. Other stories contradict that slightly and the picture is painted of a ball hit in on the keeper, then not quite cleared properly. Dan was seemingly quickest to react and he grabbed the goal without fuss. Whatever happened he had to be in the right place – and he can certainly finish.
However just after half time Shiel got back into the match after something of a mix-up in the Glen defence. By chance the ball fell out on the right to Ross Fraser and he fired a shot high into the top corner in what was a fine finish. The tempo of the game was then raised and the Shiel midfield gave it everything to the point of at times being a little too robust but the Glen centres –in particular Calum Fraser –still carrying an injury from the Newtonmore match-refused to buckle and not only held their own but gradually began to get balls up to the Glen forwards who were displaying some imaginative movement. A superb drive by Billy Urquhart flew past the post and then came the double whammy for the visitors. First a slip home by youngster Ewan Lloyd and then a Stuart Morrison snap shot made it 4 and left Shiel feeling very much as Glen’s top team had felt the week before, after somehow losing four to Lovat.
All the guys on duty turned in performances though the presence of Iain Macleod in the middle is certainly missed. Hopefully it won’t be long before he returns.
A good result for then for Hendo and one that gives cause for hope against Glengarry whose ground the Glen are due to visit this weekend in the Sutherland. However, to get an appropriate result everyone will have to first of all turn up and then play at the top of their game.

Top of their game eh? That is more than can be said for everyone at the Camanachd AGM though it was nice to see that loyal servant to shinty Duncan Cameron being rewarded for his services over the years.
In fact Duncan has completed two terms in Shinty’s big office. He was President from 1994 to 2000 and has been involved either as President or as part of the Camanachd Executive with all of modern shinty’s big deals including the inception of the Premier Division , the modernising of the Executive and finally the introduction of summer shinty. He was re-elected in 2008-Hugh Dan should really write the definitive history of this episode- and he was presented with a silver mounted caman as his term ended at the AGM.
Duncan is now replaced in the hot seat by Archie Robertson formerly of Lovat and Glasgow Mid Argyll but since he wasn’t actually in office he was not required to step in to what was the debate of the night. Rolling subs. Yes! Rolling subs? Problem was the Executive changed a rule without going to the AGM for permission.Of corse it wasn't a rule-technically it was only a pilot. No doubt the Executive feel they can do this but it is not really wise not to consult. However it is perfectly easy to understand that from the Executive’s point of view that most times the denizens of shinty’s deep are too conservative and reject what is good for them like cats that won’t swallow their worming tablets.
Of course there are arguments for and against rolling subs: indeed as the bodach said there is much to be said on both sides. However a substantial number of delegates felt that what was in effect a rule change should not have been introduced in the manner it was. When there was a proposal that rolling subs (3 from 5) should be made permanent, Caberfeidh suggested the decision on rolling subs be postponed until next year's AGM as it was too early to say how the pilot is working. The vote for continuing with the pilot was 16-10 in favour but this did not reach the necessary 75% approval.
A crazy scenario was now on the cards. For ten minutes or so it looked as if the second part of the season was going to be played under different rules from the first part, a situation that might have led us to the European Court of Appeal if some team had lost a game under rules different to those by which opponents had won earlier in the season.
Fortunately wiser counsel prevailed and after much debate, it was agreed to continue with the current pilot until the end of the season when an EGM will be required if rolling subs are to continue. Phew! That was a near one.
Otherwise the business was a follows; Calum Duff, Ted MacDonald, Jim Barr and David MacMaster stood for three elected positions. Following a members vote, Calum Duff, Ted MacDonald and Jim Barr were elected.
Jim’s election as Director was the end of all Glen success on the night because the proposal that an amendment asking that if rolling subs are allowed, then no substitutions should be permitted at a penalty hit was not introduced which is fortunate because that now means that Big Ron will be back on every Glen team sheet to sink any pens we get. Kind of pointless though since like Celtic Glen never get any.

The other Glenurquhart suggestion was also bombed out. That was the proposal that the rules around a hit-in (shy) be changed. The idea is that that in order to keep the ball in play for longer, a player should be allowed to strike the ball with the caman over either shoulder, and that the player should have no requirement to stand square on the line, or with both feet on the ground when taking the hit in. Caberfeidh opposed this and said the shy should stay as it is as it is part of the skills of the game. The AGM decided that the current rules should remain – so naturally geometrical nit picking will continue. Who says the Glen are bad losers?*
Certainly not Kyles where the top team went down by 3 goals to 1. Encouraging in a sort of a way though annoying. Without John Barr, Neale Reid, Dave Girvan and Andrew Corrigan the guys delivered a creditable performance with Kyles keeper Kenny Macdonald being tested and as usual coming up with the goods on a number of occasions. Grant Irvine’s strike was cancelled by a fine goal from arran- he always does well at Kyles- and then before half time two strikes from Kyles via Dunky Kerr and Grant Irvine again made it difficult for Glen. Truthfully the Glenners had a bit of an edge in the second half but they were unable to finish. Neither were Kyles though it took a penalty save from Stuart Mackintosh to keep the second half sheet clean. Not bad for a guy who was gigging at the Mull Music festival the night before and was heading back over the western ocean in a speedboat immediately after the match for another musical rendition (see pic). Now if only someone were making a film about shinty and the dedication of its participants that one would be up there with Niall McPhee’s marathon journeys and Dallas Young’s helicopter. Or maybe Dallas was in a film?
The other pic? The sun shone and the sign started working.

*The Wing Centre is grateful to the Skye Camanachd website for their briefing on the fate of the amendments.By this stage he had lost the will to take notes.

Hit Counter

Free Counter

Scottish Blogs