Glen are back in Shinty Business-at last!
Quidditch is back – although serious competition for the sports Premier Prize does not commence for a week or two yet. However, on Saturday before a nice crowd of the faithful both Glen sides chalked up wins - of a sort certainly - but wins nevertheless. Personally the gap between the finish of one season and the start of another is just a little long and what a shame that the beginning of the shinty season seems to coincide with the point at which Scottish Rugby reaches its annual anti-climax as the national team endures its predictable losses to England ,Wales and Ireland. Why so? Because over recent years the spread of a unified culture throughout the land has tempted unwary teuchters to travel to Edinburgh believing that they have a stake in a game that ought to be as alien to them as - well Quidditch!
It will never win over the Wing Centre: in his heart he will support any team that defeats Scotland at rugby whether it be from a remote archipelago in the South Pacific or comprises a war-band chosen from amongst the Saxon hordes of the south. But how did the Wing Centre get deflected from discussing Saturday’s matches? No matter.
The main contest was between the Glen and our neighbours from Beauly.
Now Glenners like Beauly: it is hard to think like this but it has over recent decades morphed - one almost said “murphed”- into a bit of a poshac place with coffee-shops, art galleries, antique shops, the tweed shop, an optician and plenty free parking. It is a bit like Dornoch without the golf-course, but unlike Dornoch it has a pretty fair shinty team that should be in the Premier League if only they believed they should be.
Glen squeaked past them thanks to a second half goal from Fraser Heath - a well struck shot that came off a pass inside from Billy Urquhart - and though not even “Murph” himself would have claimed his side should have drawn, nevertheless the Green’s boss man should be happy with his sides defensive performance. Full back Scott Macleod was excellent in that he did what he had to and did not moan at either ref or opponent: Blaine and Ross at the back also kept focus as did Mackay Murray in the goals. Over the course of the afternoon he pulled off about three really fine saves, which might indicate that the Glen forwards were a little over-elaborate , but then stopping the ball from going in the goals is what Mackay is supposed to do.
Beauly were also without Connor Cormack who had sustained a nasty training injury a week or so back and it is a moot point as to what sort of difference he might have made to the game but the fact that they also started without flu-victim Jack Macdonald did not help their cause.
Glen were without both Stuart and Neale Reid while James Macpherson is at present working away and could not participate but if you look at matters in the cold light of day this Glen side is as good a side as the red and blacks have put out on the field in recent times. Of course saying that is giving a bit of a hostage to fortune but with four men up front on Saturday such as Ruaraidh Cameron, Fraser Heath, David Smart and Liam Girvan to be bolstered by James Macpherson, Neale Reid and Ewan Brady then Glen have the potential for some pretty impressive forward play. That’s not even mentioning Andrew Corrigan and Lewis Maclennan who are also stick playing forwards to trade but who have been successfully converted to the defence.
Blairbeg was a little heavy so trying to play free flowing shinty with neat touches was always going to be hard but Glen stuck in and to be fair to Beauly they made the first half an even affair though Glen started to be the more dominant side towards the end of the half. Beauly did have their bacon saved by goalkeeper Mackay Murray on a couple of occasions and as well as that a couple of Ruaraidh Cameron strikes just flew by.
The centre line of Arran Macdonald, Eddie Tembo and Dixie Maclennan have the potential to be as good a midfield as any in the business. They certainly looked very strong and didn't lose many tackles with some decent supply into the forwards. At the half - hour mark Ewan Brady came on at half-forward for Liam Girvan and his full-forward berth went to Fraser Heath. Former Glen under-17 star Brady looked sharp and lively and showed glimpses of the potential Glenners know he has.
Five minutes into the second half Glen replaced Dixie Maclennan with Andrew Macdonald, and soon after Billy Urquhart gave Ruaraidh Cameron a break.
Glen looked much stronger going into the second half and this soon paid off when Fraser Heath gave Glenurquhart the lead with a snap shot into the far corner from 15 yards.
Paul Mackintosh was brought on for Arran Macdonald midway through the half and then he moved to wing back with Lewis Maclennan moving into the centre line.
Glen maintained their dominance in terms of territory though as the forwards continued to create but not to finish, Beauly were allowed to come more into the game. Glen defence remained steady under fire with John Barr very solid at full back and try though they might, Beauly didn't get any shots on target all day. But then you must remember they had to face up to John Barr, Andrew Corrigan, Ali Mackintosh and Lewis Maclennan before they even got to international keeper Smack Mackintosh between the posts.
With the three lads who are missing this Glen side can muster a potentially excellent squad- and provided they can avoid injury they need fear no other Premier side and what is more in the second team there are a number of equally capable players who are also very able and can make the step up if they want to.They seemed to want to against Boleskine who are,let’s face it, not an easy team for a side of youngsters to beat.
Glen started with Calum Miller at full forward with three young players around him, Euan Lloyd, Jack Hosie and Bradley Dickson. This game saw Brad feature at half forward (last season he played buck-shee back) and his pace and fitness will be an asset there in the season to come. For long periods in the first half this worked well particularly when Euan Lloyd fired Glen into the lead with an excellent strike which bent low into the Boleskine net. Lloyd in particular had a very good game and, despite not being at his best because of illness, he showed his ability to get on the ball and strike it well. Jack Hosie also shone getting on the ball and moving it with economy though the sticky conditions did not really favour his touch play.
Unfortunately just when things were looking as if they would turn out well, Glen lost a careless goal though at least it was home made in that former Glen under 17 player Donnie Forbes was on hand to knock it past Cameron Maclennan in the Glen goal. The defence which was without stalwart full back Donald Fraser did manage to improve as the game went on and a pleasing feature was the excellent performances of Drew Maclennan, Ross MacDiarmid, Calum Smith and returning senior player David Girvan. Big Dave has been out of the sport for nearly a season because of a knee problem and he certainly put in a fine shift on Saturday.Glen were disappointed to go in at half time 1 – 1. Still if you want to go in ahead then you should really have scored more goals.
Calum Miller lifted everyone’s spirits midway through the second half when he scored with a blistering strike to put Glen 2 - 1 ahead. Mind you, given that he cost the Treasurer £75 to pay for the excess on a windscreen he burst in the Co-op car park during the hit around before the match then he certainly had to come good in the game. Manager Iain Macleod rotated players in order to give the subs an opportunity and he was happy with the contribution of the younger players.
Not that any of the above actually foretells how the Glen will do against Strathglass, but deep down the Wing Centre actually believes that it does. Sort of!
Enjoy the pictures the best of which are from Donald Cameron i.e. the three of the players who have returned to the side after absence -Paul Mac, Ewan and Girv. The other two are from the Wing Centre himself-one of the guys sort of listening to Drew before the start and the other.... why that's the backroom staff noting down the stats.
Impressed? Thought not. On the other hand you should check out Donald Cameron's pictures and you can find them here at http://www.photoboxgallery.com/noremacpix