Friday, October 05, 2012

Kingussie Youth Policy Pays Off With Sutherland Victory

Cheeky eh?  Suppose so-when you see the headline in the context of the photograph- but it’s still true. Kingussie won the Sutherland Cup in what was a disappointing contest in Beauly last Saturday. They won certainly because they had some good young players but they also won because they had three old heads in the team, helping to form a backbone of a unit that was just good enough to beat the Glen. The emphasis is on the “just”.  Kingussie were just good enough to get through – but if they had not been presented with a penalty in the 25th minute then there is every reason to think that the result might have been different.
Normally the Wing Centre keeps a calm and even temperament and so this week the temptation to get the post out of the way early in the week was resisted because truthfully it was hard to know what to make of the game.  The impression picked up by this Glen supporter at Beauly was that Kingussie having been deprived of success by Newtonmore –unfairly as we now know- felt they had a moral right to the Cup and harboured some sort of resentment against the Glen. That negative feeling was heightened by the absence of Rory Fraser who missed the match because he had been banned for a sending off which happened sometime after the original final. Glen had been scheduled to play Aberdeen University in their last league match before the final but when Aberdeen University pulled out of that fixture it was tentatively suggested that the Glen play Kingussie in their remaining league match the week before the final. That would of course have given Rory the chance to play in the big game- but having the two teams face up to each other in a league match the week before the final is simply silly for reasons that are too obvious to repeat and the Association sensibly did not schedule the fixture.
Clearly in Kingussie a feeling of resentment against the Glen had been brewing on the back of sympathy for Rory’s plight and you have to say that it was a shame for Rory- and why on earth did the Badenoch club not make an issue to the Camanachd Association of the fact that his ineligibility should have been overlooked because of the timing of the offence. Glenurquhart would have been perfectly happy with that situation. If they felt so strongly about it, Kingussie should have backed their player’s right to play. They clearly didn’t do so strongly enough.
For these reasons the game therefore got off on the wrong foot- and it turned out not to be an advert for shinty and the Association must be happy it did not go out on National TV. Glen did not play particularly well and at times lost their discipline: Kingussie too must take their share of responsibility for the spectacle. As tension rose both sides made it hard for the referee though it has to be said the Glen were at fault particularly in naïvely questioning decisions.   Perhaps they don’t feel that in Badenoch but that is how it is seen from a Glen perspective.

In the match itself, Glen started well enough and had much of the pressure in the opening period of the game though it has to be said the park was a little too sticky for free-flowing shinty from either side. A glorious strike by Jack Hosie brought a fine save from Kingussie keeper Russell Menzies and a few minutes later a rasper from Drew Maclennan almost persuaded the Glen support that the red and blacks had gone ahead but the ball had somehow just shaved the crossbar.
The game then began to get bogged down with Kingussie coming back into it but their shooting was wayward and keeper Cameron Maclennan had little to do bar simple housekeeping. Then in an attack Kingussie were awarded a penalty after goal judge Russell Ross spotted an infringement within the D. King’s youngster Savio Genini kept his nerve firm and the ball low and converted the penalty into a one goal advantage.
Shortly afterwards Glen youngster Euan Lloyd was pulled up for careless swinging- and probably went in to the book for his reaction to the whistle. From this strike Kingussie worked the ball out wide on the right and Rory Macgregor knocked it into the path of Michael Clark who finished with consummate skill by tucking the ball up over Maclennan.
The second half was fairly even though the perception seemed to amongst certain Kingussie spectators that the Glen were the undisciplined baddies. Not strictly true: if the Glen were guilty of anything it was of not accepting sensibly and quietly when they had fouled and getting on with the game. It was hard to take therefore when having a cup of tea and a pie on the sidelines at the start of the second half it was suggested to the Wing Centre by one of the ladies from Kingussie – a lady of the sort of  vintage that calls a dress a frock-that the Glenurquhart squad were rough, nasty and violent. Rough, nasty and violent- surely not! Cameron, Euan, Drew, Dunc Rory and Jack? Never- these are all lads whom any granny would be pleased to have as grandsons: still it gave the Wing Centre a little idea of what it must be like to come from Newtonmore and spectate at the Dell.
Glen picked up the pace a little in the second half although there were also long periods when Kingussie had the upper hand. Chances were missed at both ends and in particular Glen’s Calum Fraser will feel he ought to have done better at the top end when he was put through midway through the half.

Glen’s chances further diminished when centre Calum Smith was red-carded after a tangle with Kingussie’s Greg Macrae. Both players had not been seeing eye to eye for much of the game and Calum’s inexperience showed when having received a clonk on the head in a tackle he allowed the red mist to descend. He was rightly dismissed, was extremely apologetic after the event and hopefully will have learned from it- because up to that point his contribution had been invaluable.
Glen did have a number of attacks after that point and at the other end Cameron stopped a drive inadvertently with his head but there was to be no way back for the Glen and Kingussie went on to take the Cup.

To sum up: Glen need to hold their discipline, not get involved in back chat with the referee and opponents. That’s two Sutherland Cups Glen have lost within the last three years and they ought to have done better in both.  Ross MacDiarmid was excellent at the back for the Glen and though Drew Maclennan, James Hurwood and Jack Hosie had good spells, as a team the Glen did not gel.
For Kingussie clearly the older players did well but two who also caught the eye were wing back Rory Mackeachan and in particular Scott Macintyre who did as much as the sticky ground to blot out the menace of Jack Hosie on the flank. The King’s forwards are lads with lots of promise but they did not quite get going on Saturday. Perhaps not a bad thing.
Glen were supposed to play Kings in the league this Saturday which is why the blog has been delayed. However that game is off because Kingussie were having a struggle to raise a team since there is a wedding in the town. The match will be rescheduled later.
On a cheerier note Glen players were involved in the North Under-14 and Under -17 victories against the south last weekend. Calum Macphail was in the under-14 squad and Euan Lloyd, James Hurwood and Ewan Brady were in the under-17s. Smack and Glen Tonkin of Newtonmore were the coaches
These pictures came from the Camanachd Association. The others all come from Neil Paterson with the exception of the first one which is from Tina Marshall and the last from Donald Cameron. Look closely at Tina's pic and you may see the image of a rainbow on the left. That symbolises a new beginning –apparently.

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