Saturday, April 27, 2013

Heath on fire

Glenurquhart 3 Kinlochshiel 2 (MacTavish Cup)
Glen posted a win in this MacTavish Cup home tie thanks to the predatory skills of youngster Fraser Heath. The young man has missed a game or two this season due to work commitments and the nature of the Glen’s season so far has meant that the home supporters have not seen him on home soil in the form that won him man of the match in last season’s MacAulay Cup final.
Glen have never had the same team on the pitch two weeks in succession and this week Eddie Tembo , who had sliced his thumb open at work earlier in the week missed out. Neale Reid was back however – and after an initial burst from ‘Shiel he it was who put pressure on the ‘Shiel defence by rattling in a shot which was not cleared. The ball fell into the path of Fraser Heath who rammed it past ‘Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy for the opener. Glen turned on the pressure and created a series of opportunities to shoot which the front men refused to take, though ‘Shiel defender Donald Nixon had a lot to do with thwarting them. However some more confusion in the visitors’ defence saw Heath rap in number two – and a few minutes later it took a superb stop by Kennedy to deny Heath his hat-trick.
Finlay Macrae, who had started on the bench, came on at full-back, and from that point on ‘Shiel began to play a little better but Glen still had strikes from Reid and David Smart that kept ‘Shiel on notice they were in a severe game.
Oliver Macrae brought ‘Shiel back into the match with a fine strike early in the second half. Glen pushed on however and after a free hit, confusion in the visitors defence allowed Neale Reid to restore the Glen’s two goal lead- and that should have been it. Glen were well on top and they should have gone further ahead via David Smart and Fraser Heath once again but, as the old fellow said “ if the ball did not go in the net,  it cannot be a goal “
Then disaster- poor work in the Glen centreline allowed ‘Shiel’s Gordy Macdonald to get on to a through ball from Oliver Macrae and he had the presence of mind to dink it over keeper Stuart Mackintosh who had found himself stranded at the edge of the “D”.
Glen frantically pushed to secure a convincing victory with strikes from Reid and Heath going wide and finally Scott Kennedy had his second wonder save of the day from a fierce drive from Reid.
In the end Glen were too strong for ‘Shiel on the day- and by a greater margin than the score suggests- and Glen now have the dubious pleasure of facing up to Newtonmore in the semi. Thanks for that, ‘Shiel!!
The question this also throws up is – where do the Glen play Fraser Heath. They need him in the middle, they need him in defence and he usually scores when he’s up front. Pity he wasn’t a twin.

 Lovat 2 Glen 1 (ND2)

If one young man was a success in the first match, it was another who caught the eye in the Lovat game. Euan Lloyd stepped up to the mark in a match in which the Glen faced up to a tough Lovat squad despite the red and blacks being at very much less than full strength. Jack Hosie, Calum Smith, David Girvan, David MacFadyen, Cameron Maclennan, Drew Maclennan, Calum Fraser, Gary Mackintosh, Daniel Mackintosh, Donald Fraser, Ross Macdiarmid and Liam Girvan were all out of this game for various reasons. Indeed four of the call-offs happened on the Saturday morning- and that was a blow from which the side struggled to recover from but on the plus side it perhaps shows the depth of squad Glen possess when they were still able to put out team strong enough to compete for the full 90 minutes.

The opening period was the most even and Glen should have gone one up when Euan Lloyd hit the cross bar with a brilliant strike. Unfortunately Bradley Dickson took a knee knock and had to go off after five minutes so the side were forced to pull Euan Lloyd out of the forward line and into half back.
Paul Mackintosh who had come along at very short notice went into goals and for this period in the game kept Glen in it in it with some fine saves. Glen then went one nil up through a good strong piece of play and a fine strike from Calum Miller.
The defence line up of Stuart Reid, James Hurwood, Euan Lloyd and Duncan Fraser were outstanding throughout with both Hurwood and Lloyd showing great attitude when asked to drop back into defence.
The Centre line of Ross Macaulay, Ewan Fraser and Iain MacLeod worked extremely hard to provide service for the forwards but for the remainder of the first half Lovat were on top and they scored just on half time to equalise through a close range strike from Fraser Gallagher
In the second half, to add to their troubles Glen had to play into a strong wind- and though Lovat were on top territorially the only time they looked like scoring was when they were awarded a penalty, but Fraser Gallagher mishit his shot and the threat was gone.
The black and whites however continued to press and they did eventually score through a really good strike from Euan Ferguson five minutes from the end. Glen then moved Euan Lloyd up front as he was struggling with cramp and once again he nearly scored when he was through on goal but was fouled in the box. The referee did not award the penalty so game ended 2-1
Despite the result and the fact that Glen were short, there was some comfort to be had from the fact that there were some excellent individual performances on the day. 
Apart from those already mentioned such as Stuart Reid and James Hurwood, Euan Lloyd was clearly the pick of the bunch. He has already had representative honours at his age group and it is only a matter of time before he and one or two of his team mates - make the permanent step up to the top squad.  
The pictures are from Tina Marshall who also provided some information about how the game went, though as always, the black and red specs the Wing Centre habitually wears allows him as always to put his own “gleans” on it.
You can check out her pics and blog at

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful : Part 1

Glenurquhart 3 Beauly 0
After last week’s narrow squeak and the fact that the squad which headed off to Inveraray had taken a goodly number of players , the Wing Centre was a little unsure about how this Glen side would perform against Beauly-especially since , on reaching Blairbeg, he could pick out Roger Cormack in the green jersey. This is not the place to sing the praises of Roger Cormack but suffice to say it’s not too hard to imagine him stopping  a Premier league forward line all on his own, so what chance would the black and red bairns have of getting past him.
In the end it turned out all right because Liam Girvan, who was unable to make it to Inveraray, was able to give Roger a decent game and truthfully he played him well. Meeting the ball as early as he could, drawing the veteran defender off the D worked well enough for Girvan to give the Glen a lead as early as the 14th minute.
Before that had happened Glen showed that they were going to have the upper hand when Cairn Urquhart came close after he was released by Girvan and then Ewan Menzies fired his attempt just over. It was Menzies however who started the move which ultimately set up the goal when he popped a ball over from the right to Urquhart who prodded it through and Girvan managed to squeeze in front of Cormack to tuck the ball home into the corner of the net. It was not more that the Glen deserved at this point but the controlled finish made it a bit special.
Glen continued to press for the rest of the half but good work at the back from Beauly especially from David Groat kept the Glen at bay while at the other end, though he worked hard, Beauly front man Martin Davidson got no joy out of either David Girvan or Donald Fraser and keeper David MacFadyen had little to do. The other two members of the Glen backline, Brad Dickson and Ross MacDiarmid were equally solid. MacDiarmid in particular continues to impress with his controlled economical style and strong hitting.
The second half repeated the pattern of the opening period: Glen had plenty of the ball but good Beauly defending plus lack of composure in front of the posts meant that for a long period the lead remained at a single goal – and there was the ever present danger that the visitors would come up field and score one themselves.
A freak injury to defender David Girvan –he twisted his knee and aggravated an old injury and had to be immediately replaced- required Ewan Fraser to make a welcome return to the fold in Glen colours. He was hardly on the park when he made it 2-0 for the Glen though the goal itself was hardly out of the top drawer as even Ewan would admit. He hit in a long high ball which dropped in front of Beauly keeper Rory Campbell who misjudged the bounce as the ball skipped off the hard surface. The score was a pity for the Beauly keeper who had played well up until that point- and though Cairn Urquhart was putting him under pressure as the ball dropped in, the goal has to be marked down as an error.
Glen upped the tempo after that- but suffered another blow when Liam Girvan was struck full in the face by a hit-out from fullback Cormack and had to retire with a broken nose which may see him miss a week or two of competition. Rory Maclean came on for Glen at that point- and made an immediate impact by first-timing a high ball straight on the goals forcing a good save out of Campbell. The ball however fell to Glen’s James Hurwood and he made no mistake from close range.
A good result then against a Beauly side which has been performing well up to date-but with good performances from the players mentioned as well as Daniel Mackintosh and Ross Macaulay-there are certainly reasons to be cheerful.
The performance of ref John Macgregor was also a plus point. He was calm and decisive : guys respect him. ‘Nuff said!
 Reasons to be Cheerful: Part 2
Inveraray 2 Glen 0 (Premier League)
This would have to be the Inveraray game. A loss –why the cheerful bit? Well when the Wing Centre was made aware of the absences and potential absences last week he was down. That is admittedly one of the worst parts of his character- in that he has a tendency to temper optimism with what he calls realism. In the end – at a quarter to five-he did not bother phoning any Glenners to enquire about the result : instead he contacted Davie Macpherson  the manager who brought the Camanachd Cup to Inveraray in what will soon become “back in the day”- and learned that the Glen had not done too badly. Despite their lack of numbers, they had played well enough, made some chances but had lost to a home team who scored twice with at least one goal being a bit against the run of play. Graeme Macpherson in the Inveraray goal had three or so good stops but apart from the fact he’s been having a good season, stopping shots is what he there to do- and he’s good at it.
It was heartening however that Glen showed excellent spirit and played with great intent throughout the 90 minutes.
In pressure terms Glen certainly had a major share throughout, and it was noticeable that the team’s hitting was much better than in previous matches, albeit on a pretty "bumpy" field.
The young subs –Jack Hosie, Calum Smith and Ewan Lloyd- who came on in the latter stages following a few injuries on-field, showed the same determination as demonstrated by the rest of the side.
Inveraray`s goals came from a two lapses of concentration in a defence which otherwise cleared its lines well throughout- and though that is a concern it would not have been a bother if the forwards, who enjoyed a generous supply of ball would simply shoot at goal when the opportunities present themselves .It worked in the MacAulay final: the formula is still the same.
Deke Cameron and his whistle- both were fair and sensible. Well done to them both
Inveraray are now at the top of the League and well done to them. They ought to be everyone in North shinty’s favourite South team (it’s that underdog thing again!) but we’ll see how good they are when they play Newtonmore. Personally the Wing Centre wouldn’t hold the back page though they are worth a bet in the cups, though the Wing Centre does not hold with this new craze for betting that seems to have crept into the world of shinty. How can guys bet on games when they are playing in them? Is that appropriate?
Reasons to be Cheerful: Part 3.
The Wing Centre may be regarded at his Club as a bit of a blockhead for agreeing to his initial involvement in the issue but with Skye Camanachd calling for a general meeting to discuss the Association’s proposed restructuring ,at least people can get things off their chests- and perhaps everyone will feel happier for that. There is always a tension between the practical and the ideal, between courage and caution but dialogue has to be better than diktat. Clear-cut? Neither life nor shinty is quite that simple-and that is certainly a reason to be cheerful.
The pictures are of the Glen players after the Beauly game . The rainbow ? Its a symbol of renewal, innit?.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

A week is a long time in shinty: three weeks an eternity.

You are away for three Saturdays and then when you come back the whole shinty world is in turmoil- and that just applies to the Glen, never mind anywhere else. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the electronic signboard seems to have decided to stop working. If there were to be an analysis of the good that the shinty club has done for the community two things stand out above anything else: the first  is that by providing a pavilion the club has gifted the youngsters of the village  an area to call their own on dark evenings. There they may “socialise” as it were without the interference of the passing public – and since we no longer have a local bobby merely highway patrolmen-without reference to the law and its requirements. The second thing is – or rather was- the electronic signboard with its red and black messages of exhortation or encouragement, its occasional birthday greetings and of course the lotto results texted in by yours truly every Wednesday night. It was a symbol of the club in the community and kept Astie in touch with shinty matters as he commuted from the Fort to Alton Towers every morning. Now it does not work: it must be an omen that there is something wrong in the world of shinty
On the face of it- for the moment-things could have been worse. The senior squad having lost their first three games by a single goal have continued to bump along the bottom by drawing 0-0 with Lochaber beating Oban Camanachd 2-1 and last week drawing 2-2 with Fort William. Given that Lochaber and Oban are the two newly promoted sides in the Premier and that Fort William came to the Glen with a crowd of schoolboys, these results are of marginal comfort. The big problem would seem to be that the players are getting thin on the ground. Injury and work commitments has reduced the ranks of the available players at senior level and while Glen might have been expected to get the three points from an under strength Fort William side last week, the reality was that the Glen were equally short. Amongst those missing was full back John Barr: a modern Glen side without John Barr is like a Bute side without Hector Whitelaw or a Newtonmore side without Norman Campbell-simply not as good or as focused a team as it would normally be. Last week David Girvan had to step in for his first senior game in two years while youngster Ewan Lloyd had to be pulled off the bus to Tayforth at the last minute and drafted in to help the cause. Ewan is a fine player and he put in an excellent shift. Glen ought to have nicked a winner but unfortunately they failed to do so- and so an opportunity was lost.

Tomorrow the team or rather a team travels to Inveraray and the way Inveraray are playing ….well… defies belief that anything positive can happen. This season things are really tight with little between the Premier sides so anything can happen- and it frequently has. Kyles have lost twice-‘Shiel continue to win somehow. One day Lovat will play to their full potential.
The seconds have also had their trials with injuries and absences-goalie Cameron Maclennan has missed a couple of matches and with Garry Mackintosh not available last week’s custodian against Tayforth in the Sutherland was recent transfer David MacFadyen from Kilmory who has taken up a new job in Inverness.
Best result for the side was a 4-0 win at Fort William. Glen started strong and fast and quickly scored through Cairn Urquhart. This settled the side down well and they took control of the first half with our centre line providing plenty service for the front men. Daniel Mackintosh at half forward had a superb first half and he was next to score with a very good strike from just outside the box from a worked corner. Calum Miller then scored a third and by half time the game was beyond Fort William.

In the second half Glen continued where they had left off and were soon four nil up with a tidy goal from Ewan Lloyd.
With the game comfortably in the bag Glen were able later to use all their subs which gave the youngsters some game time an important consideration especially when so many players are involved-though at the rate injuries are being accrued, it won’t be long before the bottom of the pool is reached.

The second round of the Sutherland has also been reached on penalties. Congratulations to Cairn Urquhart and Daniel Mackintosh for getting the side through. If Glen want to win anything more players will have to seriously commit to the cause. That such a problem is more widespread just might explain the fact that at least three of last weekend’s first round Sutherland ties, a National competition, were called off because clubs could not raise enough players to travel. This is not the place in which to make a comment on the National boorach-there will be another occasion but for Glen residents curious to know why the Wing Centre was absent from his writing desk for the past week or so the answer lies in that he was part of a Glen delegation which was present at the inauguration of a school library in the village of Muththtettuwegama  in the country of Sri Lanka.

The building of the library was the retirement project of Mrs Josie Mackenzie who left her post as acting Head at Glenurquhart High School in December 2011.
With the help of the whole community she devoted part of her final few weeks of service to raising a sum of money significant enough to build and equip a school library in a country which has only recently come out of a 25 year civil war.
The shinty pics are from Neil Paterson( -Lochaber game and the Fort game: the Sri Lanka pics show the plaque being unveiled- and the official party after the occasion which took place just before the Sinhalese New Year.
The guy on the left in the front row is former Kinlochshiel player Andrew “Titch”Mackenzie who won Sutherland and Strathdearn medals with ‘Shiel in the mid-1970s. tumblr hit counter
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