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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