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.

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