Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun for Some in the Sun

Glenurquhart 4 Lovat 1 (North Division 2)
Lovat (won) Glen (lost) (Premier League)

Rarely has Blairbeg looked better than it did on Saturday in the sun – and the young Glenners put on a fine display of fluent shinty to edge past a Lovat team that played stuffy stuff without especially threatening on front of goal. Mind you it took the Glen until the last few minutes to put more emphasis on the score and finally put an appropriate gloss on the final figures.
As per usual Glen went into the contest several players short-the titanic struggle against Newtonmore in the MacTavish the week before produced a casualty list of the proportions suffered on the first day of the Somme- and so immediately Ewan Menzies and Euan Lloyd were called up to the top squad. Calum Fraser and James Hurwood were otherwise unavailable while Daniel Mackintosh was unwell and had to be content with a place upon the bench.
That aside the return of Ben Hosie was an especial bonus as was the re-appearance after injury of Ewan Fraser at half forward.
Glen opened brightly and it was soon clear that with both Ben and Jack Hosie up front, the Lovat defenders were going to have to be on the alert throughout the game while Calum Miller also opened brightly at full forward when within 5 minutes Ben Hosie had slipped a neat ball through to the big forward but the final touch went past. Hosie then executed an excellent dummy, coming short for the ball letting it run though his legs but the resulting shot was stopped by Lovat keeper Chris McCallum.

This marked a period of frontal dominance by Glen when only MacCallum and veteran full back James Gallagher saved them from being completely overrun. The Glen centreline of Drew Maclennan Calum Smith and Ross MacAulay had a strong grip on the match. Special mention must be made of Calum Smith at wing-centre. He tackled well and hit long as is always required in that pressure position but above all his long shies continued to pour pressure all afternoon down on the Lovat backline. Daniel Mackintosh then came on for a spell for Ewan Fraser who was tiring in the heat and the pressure continued. A good chance to hit the target then fell to Miller but he drove a rocket just over the bar- and then just when the Glen support were beginning to think it was going to be “one of those days” Bradley Dickson who is having an excellent season at buckshee, fired up a long drive which MacCallum did not deal with properly and Ben Hosie who was following up at pace tapped it over for the pannier in 21 minutes.

A superb move in 42 minutes which saw Ben Hosie link up with Calum Miller saw the ball being fed back to Mackintosh but his strike was just a foot too high- and ref Ronnie Campbell blew the halftime whistle with the Glen hanging on to a slender lead and Lovat beginning to creep back into the game.
That Lovat were far from down and out was proved right at the start of the second half when Lovat were awarded a free hit some distance from goal. The ball was fired up into the Glen goal and keeper Cameron Maclennan made a sensible choice. The free hit looked as if it would go past or harmlessly into the net since no-one on either side was going to touch it. Unfortunately the ball hit the post instead and bounced back into play where Duncan Urquhart who reacted more quickly than the rest of the defence was on hand to knock it home to put the sides level.

The game was now on and Lovat were given new heart by their goal – and with experienced players like Darren and Duncan Urquhart up front and former Glen under-17 Graham Macmillan pushing on from the centre there were a few hairy moments but the coolness under fire of Ross MacDiarmid, Duncan and Donald Fraser, Drew Maclennan and above all Bradley Dickson meant that the pressure gradually eased and Glen began to create at the shop end. A nice piece of interplay between Daniel Mackintosh and Jack Hosie allowed Miller a rasper on goal but McCallum kept it out - then Ben Hosie hit the post with McCallum beaten all ends up.
The arrival on the field of Glen manager Iain Macleod signalled a change in approach with a realisation that in James Gallagher at full back Lovat had a player that the youngsters could not get past- and so a by-pass strategy would have to be constructed. Macleod set himself up to collect the ball early and in 55 minutes worked a neat bit of play which saw Ben Hosie one on one with McCallum and with plenty time to tap the ball home to restore the Glen lead.

The tenor of the match now swung completely in the Glen’s favour-Jack Hosie hit the side-net and Macleod himself popped one over. Macleod again linked up with the elder Hosie and Daniel Mackintosh’s subsequent shot flew past the post. McCallum again made an excellent save in 80 minutes before finally Ben Hosie got his hat-trick with another neat finish.
Hosie came off to be replaced by Rory MacInnes but Glen had one more goal to score and that came when Macleod set Miller clear on the left and his fierce shot flew past McCallum to make the score an emphatic 4-1.
If Glen had a fault at all it was that should have scored goals earlier so as to take the pressure off themselves- and so far the squad is playing excellently and are showing excellent commitment on the field. Though it’s early days yet, provided the lads can keep free of injury- a big ask given the pressure under 17s can put on the squad- and with a little more commitment to training then the team can do well.
A little word on the side. It was good to see Davie Urquhart back at the edge of the field along with John Macritchie in a helping capacity. With James Gallagher having to play on field the man on the touchline needs someone to confer with and Davie certainly knows his shinty. For years he was associated with the club when it was a force- and it’s great to see him back. Shinty needs all the friends it can get- and in these three guys it has some good servants over the hill.
Talking about over the hill, Glen scored an excellent goal via Ewan Menzies. He took it one way then turned and fired it home on the backhand. Sadly for us superGreg was in form - he always seems to do well against the Glen - and well done to him. Glen were under strength certainly but Lovat now have the points and at the end of the day that’s what matters.
After the match, the Wing-Centre and all his wee pals went to the Loch Ness Inn to watch the Kingussie v Newtonmore derby on the big screen. Clearly the Alba presentation is a work in progress. Alba can seemingly manage to present rugby and football in reasonable clarity but how bad was that shinty coverage! No graphics to tell us the score; screen freezes for what seemed an interminable time; no close ups; no cameras behind the goals. The Wing-Centre has a reasonable grasp of the language of the Garden of Eden but even the commentary lacked urgency and liveliness. There was no technical insight and they managed to make what was an exciting match a deadly bore. Perhaps on the day the Wing Centre was a little biaised – given that the Lovat result had put him in a mood - but his “gearan” stands. You couldn’t have done more damage to the Gaelic Language unless you were to cut back the number of classroom assistants in Gaelic Medium just to make sure that kids can’t get enough help to be fluent….but then somebody has thought of that already. As for shinty – anyone would think it was an amateur sport and needed amateur coverage. No wonder some guys don’t come to training.
Still there are some very good- indeed professional - pics of the featured match this week from Tina Marshall. It's good to see Brad, Drew, Calum and Ben in action. Grateful thanks to Tina for her pics. Neil Paterson has not sent over any of the other match yet. It is clear that he does not wish to intrude on private grief.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glen pay heavy price for penalty failures

The headline is such a no-brainer that even the Courier went with a version of the “P” word  but what really galls the Wing Centre is that he got up this morning to a lovely day in the Glen but the fact remained unchanged that the boys were still out of the MacTavish. The climate may change - though not quick enough to save the bedding plants of the new Glenners who indulge in what is known on Balmacaan Boulevard as “English” gardening - but Glen are still out of the cup. Unless you are a Calvinist and believe in some kind of predestination – it did not have to be like that. There were chances there but sadly they remained untaken.
Still it was an occasion in which was good to be involved. A good crowd at Blairbeg, the most successful team in shinty over the last year or two being pushed to the limit- and then we lose the penalty lottery - though truth to tell we really need to start scoring these penalties sooner rather than later. The malaise has also spread to the wee team who also missed a spot-hit on Saturday but more of that later.
The opening exchanges of the match were even and if it were not for the fact that your reporter is inclined to see things through a black and red haze then he could freely admit that in the early stages Newtonmore probably shaded things. Their defence were cleaner quicker hitters and Glen through balls did not stick up in the ‘More defence for long enough to satisfy the Blairbeg faithful. However when the opening goal came in the 18th minute it fell to the Glen. The robust Newtonmore defence conceded a foul out on the left and defender Fraser Mackintosh lost contact with his direct opponent Fraser Heath and the youngster shot the ball home to put the Glen into a 1-0 lead .
The rest of the half continued in a similar manner but as the minutes ticked away towards halftime the general tenor of the game began to move ever so slightly in Newtonmore’s  direction and the Glen were fortunate not to lose a goal when Paul Macarthur missed a clear chance about the 35 minute mark. There were Glen attacks however but direct strikes on Mike Ritchie’s goals were not common - though a series of excellent long shies from Arran Macdonald caused panic from time to time in the ‘More back line.
Glen held on until just before the half time whistle when they shipped two goals. The first came when Paul Macarthur broke through on the right and was allowed time to pump over a high ball right across the D where it fell to Glen Mackintosh. He took a second to steady himself then first timed it high into the net. An excellent finish yes - but a goal which was possibly avoidable.
Worse was soon to follow when from a ‘More free hit, Mackintosh prodded the ball forward to the edge of the D and Jamie Robinson found himself with space enough to knock the ball home from close in to put Newtonmore in at half time with a 2-1 lead, though another Arran Macdonald long shy at the top end presented Glen with a half chance which they failed to convert.

If the first half belonged in some measure to Newtonmore, the second period showed the Glen in a more dominant role. The first thing required was an equaliser and that came in the 59th minute when a long shy by Arran was knocked through by Fraser Heath. The ball came to Eddie Tembo whose shot on goal was half blocked and landed in front of Billy Urquhart on the right and he swiftly clubbed the ball past Mike Ritchie to even the match up.
That was it for scoring though by common consensus the Glen had somewhat of the upper hand with Lewis Maclennan at wingback keeping Glen Mackintosh in his place. The arrival of John Mackenzie up front for Newtonmore gave them more physical presence though he did not add to their powers of penetration. Like Newtonmore, Glen also rotated subs in the hope of making a breakthrough but chances to wrap up the match were scorned at both ends.
What can be said about extra time? Not much except that Glen gave as good as they got and on more than one occasion the chance was there to finish the match. Newtonmore however stood firm and if Norman Campbell at the back is more or less the best in the business ,Steven Macdonald is not far behind. These lads were prepared to put their bodies on the line for the win and they did so. For the Glen, Fraser Heath was excellent as was Arran Macdonald whilst John Barr was supreme at the back. Everybody else put in their full effort and the Glen were fit enough to last the pace well. Both goalies surprisingly had little to do though what housekeeping they did undertake was effectively handled.
The penalties? Glen missed: Newtonmore scored enough – and so when the record books are written up and future MacTavish programmes are published, the name of the Glen will not appear.
Next Saturday Glen play Lovat over at the Croft for the first time this season: it won’t be an easy trip given they’ve had a week off and doubtless after our bruising game we’ll be carrying some injuries but we do need to put up a show - and certainly stop them hitting the net.

The Sutherland Cup tie was a clear win over Beauly 5-0 and it has to be said the youngsters were a little apprehensive about going over the hill because in the pre-season friendly they struggled to achieve. However within half an hour they were five goals to the good thanks to a hat-trick from Jack Hosie, a stunning strike by Ewan Menzies and a fine goal from Ross MacAulay. Jack’s goals?   All finished neatly from close range but with superb composure.
So what happened then? The game deteriorated especially in the second half. Glen had sewn up the midfield and the service to the front men was excellent.
The game took a nasty turn towards the end of the first half but tipped over when Beauly’s Martin Davidson had an encounter with Glen full back Donald Fraser and after a swung arm the Beauly full forward was sent off. Glen then tried to play the extra man as a second half back so as to ensure the goals were kept intact to prevent Beauly from getting back in. Glen also opted not to push someone forward and crowd out the forwards but they never really utilised the extra man. However no goals were conceded and the Glen held on comfortably to the end to their five goal lead. Glen did however miss the traditional penalty, awarded for an incident that saw the Beauly keeper very lucky to survive on the field. Beauly also missed a penalty though why they did not give the strike to recognised striker Sean Stewart is a mystery on this side of Culnakirk.Player wise for the Glen Donald Fraser at the back was once again unbeatable. Solid, strong and determined, everyone gets confidence from him. Ross MacDiarmid and Bradley Dixon were both steady and gave their usual 100 per cent.
A special mention must be given to Duncan Fraser. He had his best game of the campaign so far and now he is holding that wing back position well. The centre line of Drew Maclennan, Calum Smith and Ross MacAulay were always in charge and in truth won the game for Glen in the first half. Good games too from Daniel Mackintosh, Ewan Menzies and Ewan Lloyd but the star of the show was Jack Hosie. He scored a terrific hat-trick and worked hard the whole time he was on. He is skilful, fast and strong in the tackle and as one of the squad’s best trainers and has an excellent attitude.
However Glen also need to learn from this game. Retaliation is totally unacceptable and the side picked up two yellow cards because of itDoubtless Glen will have many more physical encounters and although it is important to stand up to intimidation, retaliation is counterproductive as all it does is get you booked or sent off.
Beauly? They need not to lose the rag and play their shinty. They are quite good at it although you would never have known that in the second half on Saturday. Youngster Ryan Mackay at buckshee looks a player but gets himself too much involved as does wing-centre Connor Ross. They need to ignore comments from the side-lines and get on with the game in the way the No 8 Davie Groat did. He took a lot of verbals from the side as the match got tousy but ignored it all. He looks to have big game temperament and if the rest of the green guys had taken a leaf out of his book they would have done much better.
Saturday’sother game against Lovat will be interesting but no doubt that will be not only another day but also in the light of knocks to the seniors, a completely different team as well .

Pictures come courtesy of Neil Paterson (

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Home and Dry in the Cups-for now.

Glenurquhart 4 Kilmallie 1 (Macaulay Cup 1st Round)
Glenurquhart 9 Strathglass 0 (Strathdearn Cup 1st Round)

Why is this happening? There must be some explanation- the players are the same, the opponents are the same but the results are different. The only thing the Wing Centre can put it down to is the fact that -despite the evidence gleaned from the amount of water left in his wheelbarrow after forgetting to lean it up against the wall of the shed- the pitches must be getting drier and that seems to suit the Glen style. Well maybe.  Certainly the top side has trained regularly and hard over the run in to the season – but then so has every other team. On the down side injury and other commitments have meant that the Managerial Twosome have probably never had their first choice squad out on the pitch since the Macdonald Cup  though that could be equally said to be true of every other manager as well.
Just get on with it eh?
Suppose so -but this week Glen went into the Macaulay cup first round missing Lewis Maclennan, Ruaraidh Cameron and of course Paul Mackintosh. On top of that both Billy Urquhart and Andrew Corrigan having been delayed by helicopter hassle and work commitments in Norway until Saturday morning were never going to make it from the start and so the extra subs on the bench were Euan Lloyd and Jack Hosie, both under 17s who had already played that day v ‘Glass and had taken the knocks traditionally associated with that encounter.
Whatever the starting line-up, Glen opened the match in blistering fashion and in the first minute a shot from David Smart rebounded back into the path of Fraser Heath and the youngster knocked it past Kevin Toye in the Kilmallie goals to put the Glen one up.
If it did anything the speed of that strike brought it home to the watching Red and Blackers that Glen start every game that way-it’s just that the initial shot tends to go by or be missed- and that for all of their pressure and for all of the chances created, the Glen have not been good at finishing off teams with goals when they were on top. It also shows the importance in shinty of the second phase ball. Unless the ball goes off the field, the game is never dead. Last week the second phase ball-rebounds from defence- gave us three goals against Kingussie: it was also to play its part today.
Glen kept up early pressure on the shop goals, helped a little with by the freshening wind and more by the bite of Ally Mackintosh at wing forward in that he prevented a very good Kilmallie back from clearing for distance and thus kept the ball up front. Still the fears were rising on the side line as two shots from David Smart and one from the ever competitive Dave Maclennan went past- certainly the attempts were close but …..
Then in 20 minutes Neale Reid fastened on to a ball from one of a number of Glen corners, twisted, turned, held off the physical  challenges and fired the ball home. Two minutes later the Glen increased the differential when Arran Macdonald in the centre played through to Ally Mackintosh- he slipped the ball on to David Smart who made sure with a fine strike.
Kilmallie are a good side however- their performance in a recent  MacTavish final is evidence of that-and they managed two ferocious strikes on target which forced Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh into two excellent saves. The first came from a John Stewart shot which he struck hard and low forcing Mackintosh to kill the ball with the hand before clearing. The second came after a lovely piece of interpassing which left Ryan Stewart in the clear for probably the only time in the match and his strike was guided away for a corner with the heel of the club. Both shots were worthy of goals but when they were missed you could see confidence visibly draining away from the Kilmallie players, a fact underlined by the next Glen goal which came soon after. Reid picked up a ball about 15 yards out and rocketed a shot in on Toye who pulled of a superb reaction save. The rebound however dropped to Fraser Heath and he rammed home the ball to make it 4-0 for the home side.
It ought to have been 5-0 because Glen were awarded a penalty soon after for a Kilmallie infringement but Heath, though he hit the ball hard enough, was dismayed to see it fly just over the bar.

From a Glen point of view the second half was a disappointment in as much as that was the end of the scoring. Glen continued to press for a time in an unfocused way and the Kilmallie defence were able to prevent further damage.  The game died as a spectacle quite early on in the half when Kilmallie forward John Stewart received a straight red card from ref Evan Macrae for chibbing Arran Macdonald in the face with the club off the ball. Simple as!
Comment? This sort of practice was historically reasonably common in shinty when the Wing Centre was a boy-he had the stitches in his head to prove it- and while it looks messy, provided it does not smash your teeth, it is probably easier for a working man to cope with on a Monday morning than a pile of broken fingers which was the more common by product of a nasty swing.

That  act left his team mates to struggle on  a man short- and to be fair they made a good fist of it because although the Glen were a man up they never really took advantage of that fact and rather sat back to see out the second 45. Perhaps it was the thought of next Saturday’s MacTavish semi but the prevailing mood seemed to be to take it easy and avoid taking a knock. Which was fine but it allowed Kilmallie to improve and in as much as Ross Lavin scored with an excellent strike in the 80th minute they could have been said to have won the second half 1-0. They might have had a second too were it not for a lung bursting covering run from defender Liam Girvan who sprinted the width of the field on tiring legs to nip the ball away from the caman of Kilmallie’s Liam Macdonald as he was bearing down on goal with only Smack to beat.
Earlier in the day the Strathdearn Cup tie appeared a one sided affair and in terms of goals it was. The trouble is that if you see shinty through a “football” lens you don’t realise that the score in a game where one side is superior to the other rises all out of proportion to the degree of superiority. Unlike in football, you cannot kill the game by playing defensively; the goalie cannot waste time by holding on to the ball; you cannot play back passes and unless it goes off the field, the ball is always live. It was a pity for Strathglass: they were struggling for players on the day and no doubt some of them were pencilled in to play for their senior side in inverness later on in the day but they competed which is the main thing. They also kept going and kept their discipline and boss George Fraser should be pleased with that as a start. Things will get better undoubtedly.
With Calum Fraser, Calum Miller and Ross Macaulay all unavailable and Cameron MacLennan still away on holiday Glen manager Iain Macleod started himself up front and the move paid off when he helped himself to two early goals. The first came about after a poor hit out from the Strath keeper fell at his feet and he finished off smartly. The second was presented to him after some neat interplay by James Hurwood and Euan Lloyd left him with a free shot in goal which he finished convincingly. Youngster Euan Lloyd got the third counter on the ten minute mark after Jack Hosie played him through.
What was positive about the match was not so much the goals but the performance and the Glen style of shinty which the fast moving Drum pitch encouraged- and that lay behind the creation of the next goal. Macleod played the ball to Lloyd who found Jack Hosie wide.  The Glen winger fired the ball in on goal and James Hurwood was on hand to snap up the rebound and claim number 4.
Number 5 came in the 30th minute when Daniel Mackintosh finished off a rebound from a powerful strike from distance by Ewan Menzies. Dan the man nabbed his second a few moments later when he unleashed a trademark 25 yard rocket that left the visiting keeper with no chance and sent the Glen in for their oranges at half-time 6-0 to the good.
Number 7 was a work of art when Mackintosh pushed the ball across the face of the D and Jack Hosie sprinted forward to ram it home in what was more or less the move of the match for this spectator-though Ewan Menzies was still to round off the day’s proceedings with two fine strikes of his own.
So   perspective?
To score 9 goals in a game is a great achievement for any team but what was really pleasing was the fact that Glen had 6 different scorers, 5 of whom were under 20 years old which, though it is early days yet, suggests some continuity for the future
Donald Fraser was again solid at full back and looked comfortable throughout the game. He is clearly an asset to this squad and it is good to see how much he is liked and respected by the youngsters in the side. Ross MacDiarmid was his usual tidy self, playing well at the back beside Donald, feeding off him and clearing his lines well.
 Bradley Dixon had a faultless afternoon first at half back, then at wing centre. All season he has shown a fantastic attitude and is prepared to run himself into the ground for his squad. Undoubtedly he is one of the Glen’s most improved players this year.
James Hurwood, Drew Maclennan and Calum Smith played well in the centre line with James pushing forward where he took the chance to score a good goal. Calum, who missed the last two games through being off-shore, was a bit rusty but showed strength in the tackle and good hitting. Jack Hosie, Daniel Mackintosh, Euan Lloyd and Ewan Menzies all had excellent games and by demonstrating a high work rate all got on the score sheet. All should have had their confidence boosted by the experience as should Rory Maclean and “Boo Boo” Fraser who also had a run on.
Next week the youngsters will face up to Beauly at Braeview which, if this rain continues, will be like playing in Granny’s treacle pudding- so the defenders may be up against it if the Green boyans have some big guys up front. But then again, maybe not and in these uncertain climatic times the pitch may even have had time to dry off.

 The big match is at Drum of course against Newtonmore in the MacTavish semi. It may seem counter-intuitive but in recent seasons we’ve done better against them at the Eilean. With last week’s loss to ‘Shiel Newtonmore will be very much up for this match- and the Glen pitch suits them better than Kirkton ever does . Why- even the great John Fraser struggled there.
Last time the Glen played a semi of the MacTavish at home, they won-on penalties. ‘Nuff said.
Pictures- one taken by old friend Brian Denoon at the Kilmallie match. Dave Emery supplied the others with the exception of the one of Drew. That is not the best of snaps but then and no wonder Drew looks a bit strained. He had to stand for ages while the phone which had just returned from France worked out where it now was. Eventually it decided it was home and dry in Highland.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Even Stevens?

Glenurquhart 3 Kingussie 3  (Premier League)
Kingussie 3 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)

A perfectly balanced score sheet-home and away. The result for the seconds in Kingussie was a mirror image of the game at Blairbeg- and if it had been last session with Stevie Borthwick in charge of Kingussie then the headline would have been doubly apt. As things stand he isn’t, so the headline is merely accurate.
So what about the games? You’ve got to go with the youngsters since they were playing away from home. We’d seen the Kingussie seconds in the washout game and certainly they have the “legends” in the team Rory Fraser, Michael Clark and John Gibson. And in case anyone starts querying the word legend when applied to Mr G let’s remember he has Camanachd Cup final appearances under his belt and, if the Wing Centre’s recollection has not dimmed with age, scored in one of these wins and then flew off from the pitch in a helicopter, which makes him count as a legend in this author’s opinion.
Manager Iain Macleod was delighted with the performance of his young side- and to be fair after a pre-season struggle with lots of talent but no goals suddenly things are very much healthier. By all accounts it was an excellent game of shinty
Both sides were young with experience in the right places. The Glen, as is par for the course, were down a few players: Ross MacDiarmid has a niggling injury so he was rested; Ewan Fraser is also injured and needing more time to recover. With Calum Smith off shore and goalie Cameron Maclennan away on holiday drastic action was needed. It was taken. Into goals came last season’s custodian Gary Mackintosh – and boy was he needed.
Kingussie who were solid in defence were very sharp up front with youngster Savio Genini the pick of the bunch and before long Gary Mackintosh in goals was earning his mention in the annals of the D with several excellent saves. He was to maintain this form throughout the match and quite frankly kept his Glen colleagues in the hunt.
The difference between the sides was that in the first half Glen took two of their chances-both Jack Hosie and Daniel Mackintosh hit the net-and Kingussie didn’t take theirs.
Kingussie came out strongly in the second half and quickly pulled one back  to make it 2-1. Glen however buckled down to the task and when Daniel Mackintosh grabbed his second of the afternoon hopes were high for an away victory. Kingussie then started to play some lovely shinty, showing some sharp, fast play up front. The Glen defence were excellent particularly goalkeeper Gazza who had lots of good saves and dealt with everything off his feet well.
The loss of Drew Maclennan half way through the second half forced Glen to make changes throughout the team. Donald Fraser who is having an excellent season once again had a cracking game at full back against Michael Clark. Bradley Dixon played tirelessly in defence, and James Hurwood again excelled at wing centre and latterly wing back.
Euan Lloyd started the game well, playing the half forward position but injury cut short his involvement in the match. Jack Hosie also had a fine game , scoring a good goal and tackling well right to the full time whistle. Overall the manager was happy with the result and the performance but would have been naturally more content if the lads had held out for the two points.
Though given the absence of Ross MacDiarmid  and the premature loss of Drew Maclennan the Glen had a struggle in the back line at times to hold on to what they deserved to take from the match.
Still with the boys down after the game because they did not win it certainly shows they are growing in confidence as a squad. With a bit of luck and the avoidance of too many injuries Manager Macleod and his young Glenners should manage to build on everything so far and really start to make an impact at this level of shinty.

But what was happening back at Blairbeg?
More or less a game of two halves is the message being given out from both sides. Glen played well in the opening period but went down 1-0 to a strike from Ronald Ross. The Black and Reds fired on and dominated the first half with the forwards moving the ball about neatly and Fraser Heath was alert enough to snap up two half chances as the first ball broke back from the Kingussie defence. As always the story was one of missed Glen chances and if things had worked out as they should have Kingussie ought to have gone in for their halftime oranges with a bigger margin to chase in the second half.

As it was the tables were turned in the second period and when Martin Dallas equalised as early as the 50 minute, the fans in the shed had to suffer as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of the pressure. Eventually 7 minutes from time Ross popped up with what the Badenoch half of the crowd believed to be the winner but Glen grabbed a point saving equaliser in the last minute when Billy Urquhart first timed the ball into the net after Kingussie keeper Andrew Borthwick had made a fine save from the initial drive.

Right at the end of the match Lewis Maclennan was red carded via a second yellow card after an incident with Kingussie defender Iain Borthwick who also received a yellow for his involvement in proceedings.
Now there is obviously a possible point of debate here- and perhaps the TV highlights-which have not been posted yet-will make things clearer.   Even if it did would it change matters? Not really. Sure we get roused over shinty but with UBC going down – and with it a lot of peoples’ livelihoods not so far from home-then perhaps losing a point at Blairbeg isn’t such a big deal after all.

Pictures from Neil Paterson of the game- and the snaps are chosen to focus on the completeness of the Glen connection. Lee ? He went to Drum school and if the local poachers had left any stags in the Glen to be" kept" then he might have had a job here and been playing for us,.Plus one other from Hugh Dan’s collection of iconic shinty photos - EJ taking on the whole of Ireland. Look! He’s carrying the same black and red stick as Paul Fraser did last week

Hope the rain lets up.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Glen in a win win situation

Beauly 1 Glenurquhart 6 (MacTavish Cup Quarter Final)
Glenurquhart 5 Kyles Athletic 1 (Sutherland Cup second round)

 It doesn’t happen often and we have to be grateful when it does but both Glen teams progressed comfortably in their respective cups on Saturday at the expense of sides which have, it is fair to say, a fine pedigree in the ancient sport of the Gael.
The first match took place at Beauly- and truthfully it could very well have been a banana skin for the Glen. Beauly had won through to the quarter final with an excellent victory against neighbours Lovat who are a Premier League side of some repute this season-just ask Newtonmore and Fort William.

Indeed the match started off with Beauly firing on all cylinders with forwards Mark Maclachlan and Martin Davidson putting physical pressure on the Glen backline. Even in that early spell however the Glen front men showed that despite the rather sticky Braeview surface they were in the mood to play passing shinty up front and they forced three early corners causing Mackay Murray in the Beauly goal to look lively. Indeed the Beauly keeper was on song for the afternoon and when the Glen pressure really began to tell later in the match he was certainly to prove his worth.
At the other end Beauly’s Davidson and Maclachlan forced a chance but the strike which whizzed past Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh was chalked off because Maclachlan had his foot in the D before the shot was struck. It was a close call and certainly a warning to the black and reds to buck up their ideas. Minutes later at a Beauly free hit, Barry Macdonald shook off his marker Andrew Corrigan and found space on the left but his drive went past. It looked as if the Glen were living dangerously but all nerves when settled when after another fine save from Murray, the resultant corner was played into the path of Lewis Maclennan and he made no mistake in 12 minutes for the Glen opener.
Beauly were not to be subdued however and in 18 minutes,  after Glen keeper Mackintosh was a little slow to clear his lines, he found himself knocked over by the home forwards and Maclachlan fired the loose ball into the net to level the scores.

An injury to Glen wing back Liam Girvan meant he had to leave the field and Fraser Heath came on for the first time after several weeks’ absence due to injury. He took up position in the centreline while Andrew Macdonald dropped back to leftwing and Stuart Reid switched sides to hold Davidson.
The changes worked and Glen went on to tighten their grip on the game though not before a drive from Ruaraidh Cameron had gone over the bar and Murray had an excellent save from Neale Reid.

The breakthrough goal came from Lewis Maclennan in 23 again with the ball coming over from the corner and then when Neale Reid thumped home no 3, Beauly seemed to lose their will to resist and they were never a real threat again.
The second half saw Reid in top form- as he put the Beauly defenders through the mill and a great deal of excellent interplay between the other Glen front men David Smart, Ruaraidh Cameron and Lewis Maclennan was excellent to watch- but it was Reid who caught the eye. He got number four five minutes after the restart, then won and missed a penalty though if advantage had been played, a goal should have stood as a Beauly back had kicked the ball into the net under intense pressure. The presence of Billy Urquhart also caused a tremor in the home defence and while he was unlucky not to open his account with a first time drive that just flew past his cross from the right was turned into his own net by defender Ian Broadhead as he attempted to slip the ball by for a corner.
For the last fifteen minutes Beauly decided to shut up shop and brought on veteran Roger Cormack to hold out at full back but even he found Reid too hot to handle- and in the 82nd minute after keeper Murray had stopped a net bound drive by Billy Urquhart the ball stayed in play and Reid held off some heavy challenges by the green defence to fire the ball high into the net for his own third and the final score of the day. He should have been given the match ball-but the truth is that in shinty the balls are far too expensive for that sort of caper.

For Glen there is the prospect of a semi-final at home against Newtonmore though the Blairbeg faithful will certainly be hoping that the game does not go to penalties!!

As for Beauly, they have good young players in Connor Cormack, David Maclean and, despite the o.g.  in Ian Broadhead. The team certainly missed the presence and influence of Innes Simpson and Jamie Maclennan who would have given them a different dimension- and they would be better to keep Barry Macdonald up in the frontline. Otherwise they should not be too depressed: after all it was hardly a month ago that Kyles racked up 6 goals in Drum - so things can turn around quickly in shinty.
Mention of Kyles brings us to the Sutherland Cup tie in Drum and what was in the end a comfortable home win against last year’s beaten finalists Kyles Athletic.  However when the Kyles squad ran on to the field with Roddy MacColl up front and a bunch of experienced lads in other places the Glen management would have been forgiven for thinking perhaps that the bunch of bairns they were putting out in the black and red might have found things rather touch. That is all except big Donald Fraser. Big Donald did some training in the close season but now he’s up to his eyes in lambing, calving and whatever else farmers have to do- but that early ground work has stood him in good stead and he is playing splendidly. Of course because he has come and gone a bit over the years we are inclined to forget that Donald already has two Strathdearn winners medals-so he’s up there with Ken Fraser and Alan Bell while Mr Reid only has the one. On Saturday however he was at his best at full back- and while the side were short of both Drew Maclennan, Calum Smith and Calum Miller the presence of Dave “Dixon” Maclennan at full centre was significant.
The early exchanges were even but Glen took a lead in the 10th minute when wing centre Ross MacAulay scored direct from a shy. Kyles then lifted their game and for the next period they pressed the Glen defence hard and almost had some penetration but found they got little change out of Donald Fraser while Ross MacDiarmid’s tight control and Duncan Fraser’s determined running kept the visitors at bay. It was also another fine afternoon for Bradley Dixon who showed that the buckshee position is beginning to suit him perfectly.
Glen added a second in the 29th minute when Ewan Menzies fired a shot on target bringing a nice save out of the Kyles keeper: the ball however dropped to Calum Fraser who prodded it home from close range . The third came soon and was of a similar nature. A ball up from the centreline by Ross MacAulay found Fraser once again and he made no mistake from just inside the D.
By this juncture the younger Glen forwards were playing well and in the 40th minute they combined with veteran Calum Fraser to post the fourth goal of the afternoon. Fraser cut a ball wide to Ewan Menzies whose pass found youngster Jack Hosie. He placed his shot on the keeper and although the Kyles lad stopped a direct goal the rebound fell to Daniel Mackintosh who scored from close in to send the Glen into the dressing room with a 4-0 lead.
By contrast with the first period, the second half was somewhat of an anticlimax for Glen fans though Kyles no doubt were not displeased by that turn of events especially when in 52 minutes they pulled a goal back. Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan who has been having a fine season slipped up a little when, having made a good stop, he elected to clear the ball up field instead of slipping it by for a corner.  Unfortunately the ball fell into the path of David Boyle who drilled the ball into the net with the young keeper trying to return to his posts.
The differential was restored however in the 60th minute after Ewan Menzies scored the goal of the day-in both matches- when he fizzed home an unstoppable shot from distance to put the Glen through to the next round which is against—yup—you guessed it Beauly- and this time we’ll have to do it with kids. Kids? Yes! At one point the Glen forward line was Euan Lloyd, Ewan Menzies, Daniel Mackintosh and Jack Hosie while Ross Macdiarmid, James Hurwood and of course Cameron Maclennan are the other youngsters in the pack while Rory  Maclean and Rory MacInnes were also on the bench.

Pictures- Big Donald signals the score to the diehards in the stand. The  boys pay homage to Neale and to Old Cork for the win in Beauly.
The extra one is from Donald Cameron of Inverness- a pic of Glenner Paul Fraser in “Iomain nam Feachd”: the result indicated it indeed was ,as Old Cork would have said if you asked him ,a bit of a “sair fecht”.  Which is, one should imagine , exactly what we don’t want against Kingussie.Oddly enough Paul was pictured in last week’s snap as a young Glenner in Kilkenny- see he even has his black and red stick still.

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