Friday, June 08, 2012

Glen Camanachd Hopes are Pie in the Skye

Skye 2 Glenurquhart 1 (Camanachd Cup)
Lochaber 1 Glenurquhart 2 (North Division 2)
Glenurquhart 2 Newtonmore 1 (North Division 2)

Yep! Glen are not going to be winners of the Camanachd Cup any time soon – and if it doesn’t sound too churlish, neither are Skye. Not that the Wing Centre got a chance to watch this match but he kept in touch via a phone call from Mr Reid at half-time and then with a call to Astie shortly afterwards . Thanks to Astie’s advice he listened to it on Cuillin FM, though until Astie told him better, he had always thought Cuillin was a beer sold in the Benleva.
Neil Paterson, the picture –taker would have been able to help out with some objective analysis but because of Kingussie’s nonsense over not taking a strip with them to play ‘Shiel, he got stuck at Kirkton and so the “D” missed out on both info and snaps.
“They say these Cuillin guys are pretty rubbish,” said Astie “from what I’ve heard about them but at least you’ll get the score”
Which was a definite  advance on what one could get on Alba the previous week- but actually the guys commentating were pretty OK-they were clued up Skye supporters which is rare even in Bernisdale- and they told it like it actually appeared –to them. That was the bit that was rubbish-not the commentary.
By the time the Wing Centre got tuned in- or rather rowed out into mid-stream-Skye were leading 2-1 seemingly with only 4 real players. The rest were either injured or gathering whelks presumably. Neale Reid finally got Glen in the lead in 33 minutes after the usual Glen turbo-start which failed at the final ball. Seemingly Neale was pulled down as he nipped the ball home for the opener- and the Skyemen thought it was a penalty because ref Deek Cameron had a wee puff on the fideag a little before the ball crossed the line. The goal stood which was perhaps a shame as the Glen were deprived of a chance to break their penalty duck- but as a former forward Deek has an instinctual sympathy with frontmen who are unfairly brought down and thus deprived of legitimate goals.

Skye got back in via Alan Palmer who put home a rebound off the keeper and then took the lead through what the Free Press called a “wonder” goal- and what the guys back home on Monday called a “fair enough shot” Pretty much a wonder goal then. Jordan Murchison –who seems like he is turning into the Greg Matheson of Skye – was the striker of said shot, and well done to him.
The second half- and this is the bit heard on the radio- was all Glen but sadly there was to be no wonder goal despite constant pressure which was desperately defended by Skye. Alas it was a Barcelona afternoon for Glen and when Skye keeper Macleod tipped a late drive by David Smart over the bar in the last few seconds to deny the Glen an equaliser, this distant listener knew the game was up.
But then- the darkest hour is just before the dawn. The Kids went to Lochaber and pipped the home team 2-1 just when you would have thought the Spean boys would have been at their strongest what with them having just beaten Bute in the Camanachd-and with some top-teamers available for selection. You just never know do you.
Glen were without Ewan Menzies and Euan Lloyd who were with the first team. James Hurwood was injured and Calum Smith – a standout against Lovat-was away off shore. Glen started strongly and dominated for about half an hour but unfortunately did not get goals out of all the pressure. Lochaber then stepped things up and had the best of play for the remainder of the half.

With the score 0-0 at half time Glen manager Iain Macleod made a couple of changes to freshen up the forward line and mid-field. Chances began to happen. First Daniel Mackintosh scored his own version of a “wonder “goal to make it 1-0. The strike came at the end of an intricate passage of shinty with each of the forwards linking together to complete the move. Calum Fraser then made it 2-0 with a long range strike. Lochaber got a goal back with 20 minutes remaining but Glen though they should have scored more goals were comfortable and held out for the victory.
Cameron Maclennan in goals had a really good game, very tidy and quick to clear away the ball. The whole defence was excellent. Donald Fraser at full back was commanding at the back which is why he merits a picture.
Duncan Fraser, Bradley Dixon and Ross MacDiarmid all played well but Drew Maclennan had his best game of the season so far first at full centre then at half back where his perfectly timed tackling and consistent hitting were a delight to the eye. Ross Macaulay also put in a fine shift at wing centre.
 Daniel Mackintosh and Ben Hosie up front both made the Lochaber defence work hard at all times while  Calum Fraser and Calum Miller both played well working hard for the whole game. Disappointingly a knock to Jack Hosie early on meant he had to come off to be rested at half time but by then he had certainly played his part.
And then…and then… the kids only went and beat league leaders Newtonmore 2-1 at Blairbeg. How did that happen?
Well if you were born up on the high chaparral you would be saying to yourself “how come we lost that game?”  The answer is that Glen worked hard, took two fine goals and had an outstanding defence at the back of which keeper Cameron Maclennan played soundly.  Newtonmore with Evan Menzies up front –and that was the least of it- are a strong and skilful side and ref John Angus Gillies made sure the emphasis was kept on the skilful as the match went ahead – and frustration was beginning to come in to it.
Glen took the lead in 25 minutes when after a shy the ball was slipped in to James Macpherson and he slid it home on the right from just outside the D. The strike rattled Newtonmore and they mounted a series of attacks all of which foundered on the rock of full back Donald Fraser though timely interventions from the nippy Bradley Dickson were also very necessary on a number of occasions.
Glen continued to foray forward and three minutes before the break they went two ahead when Ben Hosie improvised an overhead flick which caught Newtonmore keeper Sean MacQuarrie just too far off his line.

The second half saw Newtonmore try to get back into it-though they had to rearrange things at the back after losing Brett Munro to a muscle injury.
Glen suffered a little too and in the course of the match Dunc Fraser who has been having an excellent season had to take a break as did Calum Fraser who took a knock on the knee.
For the Glen, it was backs to the wall time with Ross MacDiarmid, Drew Maclennan and Bradley Dickson all having to dig deep while for Donald Fraser and Cameron Maclennan it was business as usual.
Manager Iain Macleod came on in the middle to help fill the gap left by an injury to Calum Fraser while James Macpherson was also called on to cover back. In the end Glen held out until the 70th minute when Drew Macdonald scored for Newtonmore but despite the visitors pouring forward for the last period Glen were just able to hang on to the win.
So that’s shinty for you-you just never know what will happen. You might think things are in the bag when the cat is let out of it so to speak. What is not in doubt is the friendly atmosphere at Blairbeg. Present on the night were Rod and Stevie Munro great servants over the years to the sport: Stevie has just stepped down from being in the hot-seat with Inverness but hopefully he  and his family will keep up his connection with shinty in the town. Rod lives down the road in Badenoch now but his passion for the sport is as strong as ever and it was good to see him on the night. Also present were a nice puckle of Newtonmore folk and others from the West and Strathglass. Mary Ann Henton from Lovat had also hopped over the hill: a true supporter,she will back the sport in other Glens if there is nothing doing in Balgate.

It makes for a homely experience-which is more than could be said for last nights “Question Time” from Inverness. The Wing Centre who has passed near enough 40 years in the environs of the town looked in vain for a familiar face – and he only heard one local accent. Where were Donnie Kerr, Councillor Alex Graham, Provost Jimmy Gray, Ken Macleod, George Fraser, David Sutherland, John Watt, Kenny Thompson, Brian Macgregor, Colin Campbell even Charlie Bannerman?  Without them, how could the BBC pretend the show was actually from Inverness? Why- even Charles Kennedy’s tartan tie lacked conviction and it’s a rare Lochaberman that lacks a conviction.
The Wing Centre’s suspicion is that the BBC never went near the town at all but if they actually did – and that really is the town now- then it’s a pity that great-great grandpa was too resourceful to be cleared off the land in the olden days. If that had happened then perhaps yours truly would be living in Inverness, Nova Scotia and involved in the majority sport –ice hockey- instead of shinty.
Oh dear-never mind.
The pictures are big Donald , goal-grabber Ben and a lovely snap of Jim and Mary Ann.
The other one is of the Camanachd Cup itself-though we have never seen it in real life.
Colin Cameron of seen it though and thanks go to Colin for the photo.

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