Glenurquhart 4 Inverness 2 (MacTavish Cup)
Glenurquhart 5 Lochaber 2 (North Division 2)
So the Glen are off over to Beauly then? Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Inverness has brought us the dubious pleasure of going over Culnakirk to Calderville to play the green and whites in the next round of the MacTavish.
Not to worry, it’s always a pleasant trip over the hill: first you go round by the Master of Lovat’s Cairn near Kilmorack, then into a’Mhanachainn itself for a wee glance in Campbell’s window at grandpa’s jackets, next into Marr’s with no intention of buying, a quick wander round the square just to check there have been no new names added to the Lovat Scout Memorial then finally back to Braefield for the match.
But what have they done to the pitch? Not so sure that it is as effective as the old alignment but doubtless there is a reason. Just as well however that the Glenners of old played the Beaulacs on the Ferry Park because nowadays the red and black centre men, who all played with lofted clubs would be firing the ball over the nets on to the roofs of the new houses beyond the pitch and no doubt breaking tiles and windows. One suspects it’s only a matter of time before the neighbours start to moan.
Never mind, these delights are to come - of a more pressing nature is a report on the game v Inverness itself but before that a word or two about the ‘Shiel games.
Full reports have been carried elsewhere of both games and the Wing Centre has little to add except to note that the West Highland Free Press was good enough to indicate that the Glen seniors had been unfortunate not to share the points. They headlined their sport section with the admission that “Shiel hold out under second half barrage” but that still did not give the Glen any points though Lewis did get his trademark beauty of a goal. There isn’t a better striker of a shinty ball furth of Badenoch than Lewis but sometimes the Glen faithful wish he would just score loads and loads of scuffers and daisy cutters and they’d give up the pleasure of watching the screamers go into the net.
Even more disappointing was the second team result-2-1 to Shiel-with the visitors’ goal coming via the last hit of the game.
Glen were without Ross Macaulay, Jack Hosie and Ewan Fraser but despite these absences started the game well and also got an early goal through Calum Fraser. However, as the first half progressed they struggled to get the ball up to the forwards. Kinlochshiel came back into the game and eventually equalised deservedly.
With the score 1-1 at half time Glen decided to ring the changes. Manager Iain MacLeod strengthened the defence by dropping Drew Maclennan back to half back from full centre to give some stability and the midfield was also reinforced to provide more service to forwards. As a consequence Glen dominated the second half and certainly created more than enough chances to win the game but unfortunately could not score. Then totally against the run of play Kinlochshiel scored with the last hit of the game to win.
The lesson is clear. Teams have to score in the periods of the game when they are on top and Glen were cruelly punished in this game for not scoring the winning goal when they should have. However on the positive side Ewan Menzies had an excellent game at wing back, meeting the ball first and showing bite in the tackle. Ross MacDiarmid and Drew Maclennan both performed well.
Cameron Maclennan in goals dealt effectively with a number of shots that were on target while Bradley Dixon, James Hurwood, Duncan Fraser and Euan Lloyd all had good games, all working extremely hard throughout the whole match. The other forwards too worked extremely hard, fighting for every ball, but were just unable to score the winning goal that Glen deserved and needed to kill the game off. Liam Girvan also put in a good performance and coped well with the fact that he had to play in different positions as the game unfolded. The main thing was that the attitude was excellent-the lads showed a fine collective spirit, picking up neither bookings nor sendings off, a spirit which prevailed in Saturday’s fine 5-2 victory against Lochaber. This was just revenge for the previous match with Glen getting their counters through Calum Miller (20) Ewan Menzies (30, 78) Daniel Mackintosh (68) and Calum Fraser (70).
It would be nice to spend some time writing about this game at length but the Wing Centre missed it which is why the stats about the goal scorers are so accurate. It is also worth it to point out that Jack Hosie, Ewan Fraser and Ewan Lloyd missed out via injury while Donald Fraser was at his cousin David Girvan’s wedding.
The Wing Centre did not however miss the Inverness cup-tie though the squad was a few down through injury and wedding duties. It is only fair to point out that Inverness were down a couple too, with Sorley Macdonald, presumably home for the lambing in Canada, and James Cameron suspended.
Firing towards their favourite shop end, Glen opened the match in blistering style and Inverness goalkeeper Adam MacMaster soon showed he was the man to beat when he excellently stopped a drive from Lewis Maclennan in the opening minute. Glen poured forward and the Inverness defenders conceded the opener when in the 11th minute Neale Reid broke free on the wing to cut the ball across to Ruaraidh Cameron who fired home from the edge of the D.
Within a minute Glen were two up when Reid popped home the ball from close range and when in 18 minutes Lewis Maclennan played the ball through for John Barr to score, it looked as if Glen were on the road to a barrow load.
Inverness though are no mugs and within a minute Euan Macleod had pulled one back to make it 3-1. Glen tightened the screw however when after a long shy from Arran Macdonald, a cut back from Neil Reid saw Barr make it 4-1 with the Inverness defence chasing shadows.
Just before half time, Glen’s Ruaraidh Cameron again had the ball in the net after a good clean strike but with John Barr slow to get out of the D, the judgement of ref Jock Matheson rightly was that it was off side.
Then came the second half- and Glen simply stopped scoring. Why?
Possibly two reasons- Glen rejigged the side taking off Neale Reid, Ally Mackintosh and Arran Macdonald and perhaps they were too many changes together for the balance of the side to cope with. But young Ewan Menzies, who came on after his scoring feats in the earlier second team game against Lochaber, did what was asked of him. He played the ball early, picked it up early and moved it on while his accurate shooting on at least two occasions was only thwarted by fine goal keeping from MacMaster.
The other reason is that Inverness co -managers Stevie Munro and James “Shuggie” McDougall shifted their squad around to nullify the Glen. Davie Glass at buckshee had a fine game throughout as had Danny Polombo. Indeed as the match went on the town side simply got better. They also have in Connor Golabek one of the better players of his age group who helped Glen under 17s to last season’s London Shield. Fraser Stoddart eventually got the measure of Barr and dug in as he always does while James Ross and new signing Scott Douglas also played their part- as in fact did every Inverness player including Dougie Rankin who scored their second goal in the 73rd minute.
In the end the Glen deserved their victory even though the antics in the second half drove supporters Allan and Ina Wilson to seek refuge in John Cameron’s field behind the top goal.
You have to hand it to Inverness for putting up a fighting performance though - and for the sake of Malcolm Fraser, Lewis Stewart, Dennis Swanson, Peter Gow and big George Campbell in particular the second half performance was good to see.
Question for the pub quiz. Which shinty club in the north is the most important one for the profile and future health of shinty as a highland sport? There is certainly a case for saying “Inverness”. Politically, it’s placed in the Highland Capital where the Camanachd has headquartered the sport. To be healthy shinty needs a thriving club in the town based at the Bught Stadium, the North’s home of shinty. However, it’s just a pity that as Inverness becomes a pretendy city, local politicians don’t always get that. Just a thought….
The photo is of Ruaraidh Cameron with his man of the match trophy from the Macdonald Cup. Presented in memory of the late Danny Fraser , Shewglie, Ruaraidh was a worthy winner selected by no less a judge on the day than Rab Ritchie, Newtonmore.
Memo to Ruaraidh’s mam-Look again! Ruaraidh really is smiling.If you don't believe it doubleclick on the photo to make it bigger!
Ruaraidh also features in the other two pics provided by Inverness's regular snapper Donald Cameron who was kind enough to give permission for their inclusion.