Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Avoiding Astie

Glenurquhart 4 Aberdeen University 1
Kyles won Glenurquhart one

There are things that the Wing Centre tries to remember to be very grateful for when the world seems cruel as it did on Saturday at around 5 o ‘clock. Firstly he could have always been brought up in Lairg or Tain and then not only would he have had to live there but he wouldn’t have known anything about shinty at all. Alternatively, supposing he had been brought up in an ordinary place, his mother might have been a dancing teacher and he would have had to go to ballet lessons on Saturdays instead of the shinty- so there are always different scenarios possible. What made this particular Saturday difficult was the fact that there is always a ritual scene at the end of it when the Wing Centre has to phone in to Astie Cameron and tell him the result. There are times when you might look forward to speaking to Astie: there are times when you might not. This was a time of the latter kind- and so after sticking for some time in parts of the village where the phone doesn’t work- Garry Mac will tell you all the locations-it was back out into the reception again. Sure enough Astie did phone. He seemed irritated as if he had been trying for a while which was in some measure a result though the truth is there are just certain things you would prefer to tell Rachel.

However there are only two conclusions to be drawn from Saturday’s results:
1) The school team aren’t quite ready for the Premier League.
2) Boy, aren’t Kingussie in trouble now?

Otherwise the result of the day in Monsterville was the Glen’s 4-1 home win against Aberdeen University. Given that so many of the youngsters had been hypothecated for the top side it was true to say that there was a little uncertainty about how this match would pan out. In the end it was OK though it took a while for the pattern of the match to settle down.
Glen started off the match with manager Iain Macleod having juggled his personnel around somewhat from the layout in the match against the Garry. Ewan Menzies was slotted in at wing back and James Hurwood started out up front while big Donald Fraser who has had an outstanding spell at full back recently was missing due to work commitments.
Glen pushed forward right from the start with the front line being led particularly well by Calum Miller recently returned from injury and it was not long before ‘Varsity keeper David MacFadyen was in action having to make a series of saves not the least of them from his cousin Glen front man Calum Fraser .David has had a lot of experience picking the ball out of the Kilmory net but for a while on Saturday it looked as if he would be keeping it all out of the ’Deen net all afternoon.
However, Ross MacAulay in the Glen centreline was particularly effective and in 20 minutes he brought another fine save from MacFadyen which earned Glen a corner. Miller then sprinted past the defence but the ball ran out of play before MacAulay tried another drive which sailed over the bar.
Aberdeen conceded a shy which MacAulay sent over into the danger area where Miller latched on to it at close range but MacFadyen was once more on hand to smother the ball at the post and force it past for yet another corner. Immediately afterwards however in 29 minutes Glen made the breakthrough when Miller played an angled ball to the right of the “D” and Fraser fired home from the narrowest of angles to put then Glen into a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later James Hurwood who had pushed forward for a spell first timed a cross ball right on target but MacFadyen was once again equal to the task. This time however from the resulting corner the ball was worked to Jack Hosie and he ran it into the net to put the Glen two up.
Glen’s third came shortly afterwards when a through ball from player/manager Iain Macleod found Miller free and the big man fired an unstoppable drive past MacFadyen to make the game safe. The fourth arguably the best of the day came just before the interval when some neat interplay between Fraser and Miller saw the ball pushed across to Daniel Mackintosh on the right and his left hand strike flew into the roof of the net.
It was not of course all one way traffic but fortunately for the Glen Cameron Maclennan was in form between the Glen posts and by the time the half ended he had two fine stops to his credit. The bulk of the Aberdeen attacks however were stopped by Ewan Fraser and Drew Maclennan while Dunc Fraser had a sound game in the middle.
The second half was by contrast a bit of an anti-climax from a Glen perspective. An injury to Ewan Fraser before the break meant he had to come off and then a tendency crept in for the lads to ease off despite some patches of good play. Aberdeen also lifted their game somewhat and Steven Mackenzie in defence made some important interceptions which meant that the students as befits quick learners eventually stopped the Glen from adding to their score and indeed in 81 minutes they pulled one back when John Sweeny ran through to score- and truthfully it was no more than they deserved. An additional disappointment for the Glen was that just before the end of play teenager Jack Hosie slipped and tweaked a muscle which effectively ruled him out of the second match. However with a goal keeper and full defence all under 20, you can't really complain.

The Kyles match is one into which not too much should be read. Much has been made of absences on both sides but on the day Glen opened strongly and both Ruaraidh Cameron and Lewis Maclennan had quick shots on target before Kyles’ Rupert Williamson had a drive from distance which went over the bar. In 9 minutes some neat play by Brad Dickson and David Smart set up Lewis Maclennan and his rocket shot brought an out of this world stop by Kenny Macdonald in the Kyles goals. Glen continued the pressure with Maclennan once again getting a shot on target though gradually Kyles came back into it with Robbie Macleod in the centreline looking especially fit. The visitors forced a series of corners and in the aftermath of one of them Macleod tested Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh with a fierce drive but he was up to the task.
Glen then suffered a blow when in 27 minutes Liam Girvan had to leave the pitch with an injury. This caused some reshuffling in the Glen defence and inexperience at the back allowed Ewan Campbell a free shot for the Kyles opener in 27 minutes.
Glen then settled down and held their own for the next period – and in 40 minutes were awarded a penalty which would have allowed them to level the game. Lewis Maclennan did not connect with the ball and his shot went past the post. Have to say that from where the Wing Centre was placed big Kenny looked to be a yard off his line- as he should be if he could get away with it-but no retake was ordered. Moments later another half chance presented itself but this time the ball went over Macdonald’s bar.
Glen confidence ebbed and inexperience again at the back allowed Kyles two more scores which even Coach James Perlich could hardly believe they deserved- and so the Glen School team went in at half time 3-0 down.
The second half was another strange experience. Glen performed reasonably well mounting a number of attacks but with Fraser Macdonald in particular outstanding for Kyles at buckshee the forwards got nowhere- and Kenny Macdonald dealt well with everything else that came at him.
A breakaway in 70 minutes gave Kyles a fourth goal before the Glen finally got their name on the score sheet after James Hurwood and finally David Smart pushed the ball over the line in the 76th minute.
Late defensive errors allowed Kyles two more strikes including one from Peter Currie who had promised before the season not to play because he was emigrating. Still despite it all the Glenners wished him well at the end of the game as can be seen from the picture included.

So there you have it- six Kyles’ breakaways- and you can’t read much into a single result. Hopefully! Not only that but a lot of kids got to play in the top team which has to be good.
The other pics are of winning Glen manager Iain Macleod, Cousins David MacFadyen and Calum Fraser. Thanks to Gillian Currie for the snap of Peter. But what’s he got to smile about: now he has to play for California!
Finally Kyles’ other scorers were brothers Thomas and John Whyte who will probably feel annoyed that their goals were barely mentioned. If this were a Kyles blog the headline would have been “Glen caught in a Whyte-out” but it’s not, so it isn’t - but you can have it for free and use it on your own website when you write up the game, guys.
Just a final though-what are these two Lochaber guys talking about in the background of Iain's picture.Do you think they're going to say something to Astie?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drum Beat !

Glenurquhart 0 Inveraray 1
Glengarry 3 Glenurquhart 0 (Seconds)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a shinty team not in possession of a single goal must be in want of good fortune. If only……
Well maybe yes- a little bit of luck and the Glen might have shared the points with Inveraray for truthfully the visitors from Argyll were not team splendid. They were solid enough and despite the fact that Shady ain’t so slim any more, their defence was more or less capable of dealing with the Glen presence up front. Beyond that, when they were presented with an opportunity they took their goal-and you can’t argue with that.
In fact they actually started off quite well if only because in the opening ten minutes or so Glen struggled to get out of the blocks conceding a series of fouls which kept them on the back foot. Why so? They seemed a little slow to meet the ball and thus , coming second , found themselves penalised for pushing in the back or tackling in a clumsy way.
By about 15 minutes in however, Glen began to come more into things and Inveraray keeper Graham Macpherson had a fortunate escape when having got his club to a drive from Fraser Heath he was relieved to see it come back off the top of his right hand post.
Glen then forced a series of corners and though John Barr , Heath and Lewis Maclennan got opportunities to move the ball forward and actually did so, the close attention of the Inveraray defence in which full back Scott Robertson was on top form was enough to see chances wasted.
At the other end Inveraray were also awarded a run of corners but they were unable to test Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh more than once when he tipped a drive from Andrew MacMurdo over the bar. There were a couple of other potential problems but Andrew Macdonald was on hand to make the key clearance on two occasions while full back Stuart Reid maintained his recent run of good form and the Inveraray front men made little headway.

At the other end in 28 minutes Barr got one on one with Robertson and managed to get a powerful strike in but his shot flew just wide. In 35 minutes it was much the same story and though this time Barr’s strike was closer, Macpherson in goal did not have to make the save.
Glen then had a period of dominance winning a number of shies on the left but the Inveraray defenders in particular Douglas Dando and Gary Macpherson were clean and long hitters and were able to knock away the loose balls out of the danger area. Just before the interval Heath managed to work free from the attentions of Gary Macpherson but his first attempt was cleared by Dando and a second attempt went across the D and out for a bye-hit.
Then- bombshell!
Glen gave away a foul just outside the D at the shop end. A loss of focus ensued, Stuart Robertson played the ball to Andrew MacMurdo and he put Inveraray into the half time dressing room with a 1-0 lead with what was the last hit of the half.
Smash and grab! Certainly. The Inveraray defenders were aware of their good fortune and exchanged knowing looks but in that moment they had won the game.
The second half was déjà vu-all over again and again and again. Glen pushed hard. Changes were made. Arran Macdonald came on and played well. Shots went wide and over the bar. Sometimes shots were not taken- sometimes wrong choices were made: there was even a wee bit of argy-bargy when keeper Macpherson got bashed on to the post and he went mad in a controlled goalie like way.
An Inveraray defender was booked for a skilful “professional” trip- nothing malicious just perfectly designed to break up an attack. He took the booking though there should have been an earlier one for Gary Macpherson when he did the same thing in the first half-but again it was nothing nasty and the Glen oldies on the side-lines admired the skill with which it was executed.
The key player for Inveraray at this juncture was Dando. Robertson held the line at the back but all the loose balls breaking off the attacks were mopped up by Dando- and his centreline especially David Robertson and David Macpherson also tracked back deep to defend energetically.
They say when trouble comes, close ranks. The Inveraray defence did so and they kept their concentration - and in as much as they did that, they deserved their win but they had to hang on grimly to get it as the Glen pressed imprecisely forward.
A disappointing afternoon for the home support then, but it was not all bad. David Smart had another good performance as had Stuart Reid. Arran Macdonald did well when he came on and Andrew Macdonald also put in a performance worthy of some mention.
Inveraray? If they had committed such larceny in their home town they would have been banged up in Inveraray Jail and the key thrown away. However, given the boorach they were in at the back end of last year you are sometimes inclined to forget that this is substantially the same side which has been to three Camanachd Cup finals over recent years. They have also in that period won a MacAulay Cups and have more or less had a monopoly of the Celtic Society Cup from 2001 till a couple of years or so ago-so they kind of know how to win when they have to. Put some money on them for the Celtic this year: they will not disappoint especially given the fact that there was no sign of Russell Mackinlay at Drum. He was merely scoring a barrow load for the second team back home. Can no-one make that boy see sense?
Will the Wing Centre watch the game on Youtube? Not unless it would tell him something he did not know. Perhaps some of the details are imprecise but the broader canvas is correctly coloured in.
One final note-good luck to Inveraray’s Davie Macpherson when he carries the Olympic torch: he put in a solid performance in the visitors centreline. Hope he has a good day. A pity the gig can’t be on a Saturday when Inveraray are due to play the Glen.

On top of this result, the loss at Invergarry unfortunately made it a double downer for the Glen. It was heartening however that the young lads kept the Garry at bay for such a long period in the match.
Disappointing for the Glen was the absence of two important players Calum Miller who missed out through injury and Drew Maclennan was unwell. Manager Iain Macleod was also unable to participate through illness.
The key player for Glengarry as everyone knows is Steven “Dee Dee” Cameron and in the absence of Drew Maclennan, he was marked by Ewan “Boo Boo” Fraser and to his credit, “Boo Boo” put in a sterling performance and ran himself into the ground. When he tired he was replaced by Bradley Dixon and he also put in a good shift- the result of which was that as the game reached its conclusion the Glen were only 1-0 down. At this point Daniel Mackintosh had an excellent attempt which just shaved the crossbar.
Glen full back Donald Fraser had another excellent game. He tackled hard and his strength kept the defence focused and organised. Calum Smith also played well at wing did. Ross MacDiarmid but a niggling injury to his knee forced him off at half time. In the younger age group James Hurwood and Euan Lloyd also played well as did Cameron Maclennan in goals. The only downer was that Jack Hosie who had also been playing well picked up a knock in the later stages of the match. However apart from an inability by the forwards to take the chances they have created, from a Glen perspective the feeling was a positive one. Everyone gave their all and there were no lapses of concentration or of discipline – and one cannot ask for more.
Glengarry? Apart from noticing that Ewan Brady had an excellent game-there is no doubt that he is an exceptional talent-the only other point worth mentioning is that they might win something this season. But then again they might not.
Most of the pictures are from Neil Paterson (
who seemed happy and relaxed-indeed almost carefree. But then Lovat are top of the League. Boo!
One of this week's snaps isn't from Neil. Guess which one that is.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tough test for Glen in opener.

Glenurquhart 3 Kilmallie 2
Skye 3 Glenurquhart 0 (Seconds)

If you are going to choose a windy day to start the Shinty season, it is as well to choose one which is dry-though reports from Argyll indicating that the Inveraray /Kyles match had been pulled for weather conditions certainly proved that it wasn’t dry everywhere. That is also what Iain Macleod’s squad for Skye found out to their cost when they finally penetrated the rain curtain which was tightly dawn over the Island of Mist. But that’s another story.
Back at Blairbeg the top squad squeezed out a win in a match they made harder than they ought to have. Certainly they were light, in as much as both Ruaraidh Cameron and Neale Reid were absent on the day, as a result of injuries and it could be argued they were missed. Kilmallie too were without one of their own forwards ,Michael Rodgers ,who picked up a ban for the start of the season. Doubtless there were one or two others absent-there always are – but Kilmallie seemed to possess the most effective forward on the day in the person of Liam Macdonald-but more of that later.
Glen started powerfully and within five minutes had carved open the ‘Mallie defence when David Smart, who has had an excellent pre-season spell in midfield, fed the ball through to John Barr. He knocked it back to Lewis Maclennan who fired a tremendous drive on goal which was somehow stopped by Kilmallie keeper Kevin Toye. From the resulting corner however some slackness in the Kilmallie defence allowed John Barr time to hammer home the opener in just on 4 minutes.
The loss of an early goal was probably hard on keeper Toye because he was –despite one costly second half slip-at his best in this match and he needed to be.
Kilmallie held on during early Glen attacks and gradually began to come more and more into the match particularly building from the midfield and bringing front man John Stewart more and more into the picture. He was though tightly marked by fullback Stuart Reid and although the Kilmallie man tried to force the pace the nearest he came was a drive that went past Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh’s left hand post. However the mood in the Glen camp changed abruptly in 21 minutes when defensive slackness allowed Liam Macdonald to fire the ball home for the Kilmallie equaliser. A good finish certainly- but slicker tidying up at the back would have prevented the strike.
Glen pressed at the other end however but Toye had his eye in and he was equal to two further attempts on goal. A rocket shot from distance by Lewis Maclennan looked to be heading for the top corner, but Glen full-forward John Barr stopped the ball in the air and the Kilmallie net was preserved intact.
Further drives from Maclennan and Smart were also stopped by Toye just before the interval and just when you thought the sides would go in 1-1 at half time, the Glen struck, probably against the run of play. The ball was hit forward by Lewis Maclennan, played across by John Barr and with the defence out of position youngster Fraser Heath kept a cool head and tapped the ball home from close range to put the Glen in with a 2-1 interval lead.
As they queued for the half time scoff, it was hard to guess which group of supporters felt more uneasy especially given the reports of crazy scores coming from elsewhere in shinty’s small parish. It seemed in particular that the sky had fallen in all over Badenoch what with Shiel having beaten Kingussie and Lovat storming ahead at the Eilean.
After all the banter is cleared out of the way the Wing Centre would like to record that Kilmallie certainly looked sharp- and their hitting was cleaner- but the Glen forwards in the first period had made the Kilmallie keeper work harder than their own man though that is sometimes hard to bear that in mind when your heart was in your mouth every time the Kilmallie front men got onto the ball.
Glen did not manage to hold onto that lead for long however because just after the restart Kilmallie equalised through Macdonald when he capitalised on another sloppy Glen clearance.
That was the pattern of the rest of the match- it was tight and it was competitive and also played in a good spirit- and nothing separated the sides except the winning Glen goal which came in the 72nd minute via Eddie Tembo.
Netbuster? Even Eddie says it was a dirtbuster and you have to feel sorry for the keeper who had also graced the second half with a number of neat saves though the Glen accuracy rate fell off somewhat as the afternoon progressed and the wind developed. Either the keeper made a mistake or was deceived when the ball took a bobble off the hard shop-end ground. Both are possible: Mr Toye will know which he prefers. Anyway it gave the Glen a lead which they just about deserved – and ultimately a victory which they also just about deserved.
Kilmallie’s shooting? Less accurate than the Glen despite Liam Macdonald’s two counters– and they will probably rue the fact that late in the second half they blasted at least three shots over and wide when Mr Morrison, their boss, would have wanted them at least to make the Glen keeper work.
Verdict? Two teams that will have to do better if they want their names on a trophy this season. No doubt they will play better in the better weather: they usually do- but then so will everyone else. It is still too early to call but with Lovat and Kinlochshiel taking two points each from the Badenoch big two, then there might actually be senior trophies up for grabs to sides beyond the favoured few this year. One shall see - but better to have the two points than not.

Up on the ‘Park of Heroes’ the reserve side found the going wet and heavy. It wasn’t helped by the fact that they had to leave Ross MacAulay and Calum Fraser, two of their most experienced lads, behind with the sickness bug. Jack Hosie missed out too while player/manager Iain Macleod had to come off the field in 20 minutes because he felt unwell. That said, the lads dug in and made it to half time only one goal down-though the main disappointment was that the side were unable to score the chances they created.
An injury to James Hurwood further upset the side and in the end two further goals were conceded. However the management squad were delighted with the attitude commitment and effort from all of the players-in particular Donald Fraser at full back who was strong in the tackle and gave the whole game 100 %. The big man also takes care of his team mates and is sure to have a big influence on the side this season if he keeps clear of injury. Ross MacDiarmid, Drew Maclennan and Ewan Lloyd also shone for the Glen while David Girvan who made the trip to Skye at short notice also impressed with his attitude and it was good to see him getting in a full game after such a long spell of injury.

The pictures? Eddie explains to Drew that he deliberately tried a ground shot to beat Kilmallie. Drew looks as if he can’t quite believe him but congratulates him anyway. The other shot? The guys after the match wondering how they got away with that.

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