Saturday, September 08, 2012

That Winning Feeling

Glenurquhart 4 Glengarry 0 (North Division 2)

The Wing Centre was elsewhere last Saturday on club business mark you  and thus avoided the match against Inveraray at the Winterton- a fate that he was not unhappy about considering that the side which travelled down the A82 was extremely short of personnel. But of that more later.
He also missed the match against Invergarry at Drum not to mention the Strathdearn final at Glengarry Stadium where Beauly, that sleeping giant of North Shinty not so much as woke up but turned over in the shinty bed and pulled the blankets off poor Fort William and actually won the trophy for the first time in 55 years.
The game which did surprise was the 4-1 victory against Glengarry at Drum because with the Hosie brothers absent –Ben in America and Jack in Inveraray- and with  both Calum Fraser and Ewan “Boo-Boo” Fraser  out, it could have been a sticky afternoon at Blairbeg against a side which have given us trouble in the past. ‘Garry unfortunately had only 11 players on the field which is a pity but these guys are all good players and on the day despite the numerical advantage Glen found them hard to break down.
Glen opted for a mobile front line with James Hurwood and Drew Maclennan pushed up into the front line along with Ewan Menzies and Daniel Mackintosh. In the event, the first half proved rather flat and the Glen forwards did not play as fluently as they should have done. Glen did score  a very well worked goal that was finished off by Ewan Menzies and but any thought that would settle the side down to play good shinty soon evaporated   and the game produced very scrappy first half and Glen were disappointed to go in at half-time only one goal up.

The second half was much more promising and the side came out in a more determined frame of mind. Everybody worked hard for each other and eventually the side got what it deserved. Drew Maclennan began to revel in his new-found status up-front and bagged two good strong goals while Euan Lloyd nabbed another to bring the total to four.
Elsewhere in parts the performance was reasonably positive.  Keeper Cameron Maclennan had a good solid game in goals and posted a shutout. Ross MacDiarmid too played well in defence as he has done for the whole season. Bradley Dixon was used as a free man, almost as an extra mid-fielder as well as a half back and his performance was outstanding. Running non-stop for 90 minutes he read the game superbly. Another success was Ross Macaulay whose great hitting and high work rate were an inspiration to the rest of the side. Ewan Menzies also played well. He has a good first touch which allows him to look up and distribute the ball well and to cap his performance he scored a fine goal.

With the re-organised Sutherland Cup Final coming up on the horizon, it was important that the Glen got through the game with neither injuries nor bookings. Fortunately things worked out well in this department and all the players stayed positive even during spells in the game that saw the side playing well below par. You cannot ask for much more.

Can the guys win the Sutherland Cup? Are Beauly Strathdearn winners? ‘Nuff said.

 Inveraray 0 Glenurquhart 1 (Premier League)

 But what about the Glen win down in Inveraray?
If you were an Inveraray guy you would be saying to yourself “How did we not score? Russell was playing, Gary was playing, the Twins were playing.”
Two reasons- heavy wet pitch which did not suit the Inveraray style and the Glen boys defended in depth and well. They had no choice : they were so many players short especially up front where the absence of Davie Smart, Ruaraidh Cameron and James Macpherson was a clear handicap. Andrew Corrigan was also not available at the back nor was Dixie Maclennan in midfield- so what is a black and red boy to do? Defend and rely on the elements.
Then, of course, there is always the Smack factor.
About midway through the first half Glen were awarded a penalty after a move which in fact saw Glen’s Neale Reid put the ball in the net. The ref was correct in his decision though because he had blown his whistle before Reid had put away the chance, though it does no favours to the Glen to award them a penalty. At least that used to be the case until Stuart Mackintosh took over that particular poisoned chalice. Up he stepped, placed the ball on the spot and hammered it hard and low past keeper Graham Macpherson.
Now when you go and sneak a lead and you are defending with all your heart and soul, it is very hard for your opponents to score.
That is what happened to Inveraray at Drum earlier in the season when they pinched a goal and kept Glen out. Now Glen did the same but with a cuter game-plan which involved an eight man defence with big Arran Macdonald picking up the defensive clearances from the Glen backs and firing the ball up to scampering forwards Neale Reid, Liam Girvan and debutant Jack Hosie who can all get to the ball first and cause bother. It worked a treat- very much an Inveraray style of play ironically enough and the Inveraray defenders in particular Alan Macdonald at the back found it tough to deal with while Gary and the guys up front saw plenty of the ball but did not really test Smack, though he had to deal with the usual rubbish off his feet.
Now the Glen defenders are good enough one on one for any Premier team even without Andrew Corrigan but what really pleased was the way the front boys performed.
After some Inveraray pressure the referee evened things out by awarding the home side a penalty though from a Glen point of view-there can be no other- it seemed like Russell Mackinlay was holding onto John Barr but Barr was penalised for pushing when he struggled to  free himself. Chris Crawford stepped up to take the penalty for Inveraray but he drove the ball low and hard but straight at Smack who saved easily. Perhaps ‘Raray Manager Smylie will ask their goalie to take any penalties they might be awarded in the Camanachd Cup final v Kyles. It is certainly worth a wee thought.
As the game continued both teams had chances, Glen through Liam Girvan and Neale Reid while for Inveraray Gary Macpherson and Russell Mackinlay had opportunities but neither keeper was seriously challenged.
Paul Mackintosh came back for the last ten minutes or so for his first match since breaking his hand against Kyles- he has had a cruel season missing out on the MacAulay final because of a bit of bad luck- but he is the type of guy who will not let you down when you are in a corner- and Glen were certainly in a corner for players this week. Paul actually had a chance to double Glen’s lead but it was not to be. So there it was- a win – and when Mr Corrigan (Coach) texted the Loch Ness Inn where the old boys  were trying to contain their incredulity over the fact that Beauly had won the Strathdearn against a Fort William side that had knocked out the Glen… well the mood lifted and they began not to begrudge Beauly their win.
What about Newtonmore?  Who knows- but one thing is certain this ‘More team will be desperate to wrap up the title at home. Glen? They will have their eyes firmly fixed on the Bungee Jump due to take place after the match but Glen can usually play a bit so not many of the Newtonmore lads will sleep particularly easily in their beds on Friday night.

Zandra’s Sixes was held the night before the Games: the winners were “Up the Glen”. Player of the tournament was Liam Robertson. The pics are of the winning team, of Finlay Robertson receiving Zandra's trophy and of Liam Robertson being presented with the "Player of the Tournament" trophy from Brian Fraser who gifted the cup.


Thanks to Tina Marshall for the pictures v Glengarry. She very kindly sent these snaps along off her own bat and they are excellent quality.The ones of Zandra's 6s come from the Wing Centre's own camera phone and are sadly not as good as they should be.
The other picture ? Quite simply it is one of the nicest, most genuine shinty pictures the Wing Centre has seen recently-the old Beauly guys reunited with their spoils of yesteryear. If ever a picture could capture what winning a trophy means to a club , this one does. The Wing Centre has often been cheeky about Beauly over the years but he never forgets that his good lady has an ancestry which includes Allt Dearg and Ferry Road- and she never lets him forget it either. Thanks to the Beauly Club for the picture. Its a classic- and they have not had a bad season either. Balliemore Final, Strathdearn Winners and the North Third Division trophy.

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