Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ancient Rivals meet again

The papers called it a double celebration for the Glen. Maybe it was but these were two games which, given the clear application of common sense, should not both have gone ahead on the same pitch. The Wing Centre for one is happy that Blairbeg was not the venue of choice for the two games though it could have coped with one. Still as the Chairman would say, it was what it was.

Strathglass 1 Glenurquhart 4 (The Ali Ban Cup)
The first game was the for Ali Ban and the result was a comfortable 4-1 win which came about through first half goals at the top end of the field, the surface of which was at the start of the match in much better  condition. Once again, the key to Glen success in this period was the fast and mobile forward line comprising Cairn Urquhart, Jack Hosie, Daniel Mackintosh and holding the complete  unit  together  Raymond Robertson. The Strathglass defence were older and stronger and, to be fair to them, they obviously had to call some lads out of retirement to get a team together at all. However, in that first period the Glen front men supplied well by a centreline in which James Hurwood was outstanding, created a series of chances and within half an hour  Glen were three up courtesy of two fine strikes from Raymond Robertson and a single from Daniel Mackintosh. While all the forwards played well in this period Robertson was the pick of the bunch ; he works hard, hits the ball well and most importantly keeps the tempo of the game turned up which is always required if a team is going to overcome its opponents.
Strathglass worked hard in the second half to get themselves back in the game and were immediately rewarded when youngster Lawrence Jones scored a nice goal. For the next period of the game, the Glen defence had to weather some heavy pressure  and although they stood up to it manfully there were times when they  found it difficult to clear their lines quickly Glen were fortunate to have Paul Mackintosh at the back as the last line of defence along with keeper David Macfadyen. Eventually matters turned round and when the manager Iain Macleod brought on youngsters Lachie Smith and Liam Robertson things took a turn for the better and a late goal from Liam Robertson put the icing on the cake. Credit has to go to the Strathglass defenders though both Raymond Fraser and keeper Ivor Macleod because they both held back the swing at times when a Glen youngster was caught on the wrong side. Well done to them both and to the other Strath players who kept the contest sporting when the underfoot conditions could have easily caused possible injuries with youngsters slipping and sliding in front of swinging camans.
Certainly there were many positives to come out of the game but replicating this result against the standard of side the Glen seconds will face this season will not be easy. However that’s for time to tell-in the meantime James Hurwood was awarded the Russell Cameron Memorial trophy for man of the match.

Strathglass 0 Glenurquhart 6 (The Macdonald Cup)
Winning a Macdonald Cup is always an achievement but this result will not tell the Glen a great deal about how fitted they are for Premier competition for the simple fact is that Strath are two divisions below the Glenners in shinty’s pecking order. However it was important that Glen won well and although the condition of the pitch could have been a leveller in the end it did nothing except prevent both sides from playing fluent shinty.
From the outset Glen were on top and with Strathglass full back Donald Fraser clearly short of full fitness due to the recurrence of a long term groin injury, it was only a matter of time before the visitors made the breakthrough. That came in the 16th minute when James “Frosty” Macpherson fired home at the second attempt after David Smart had set him up from a free hit.
Next a neat interchange of passes between Macpherson and Lewis Maclennan left Neale Reid with a clean strike from distance to double the Glen’s advantage. Just before half time team captain Eddie Tembo was taken off with a cut above the eye, which although producing a lot of blood turned out to be quite minor. He was replaced in the centre line by Ewan Brady and Glen continued to press hard but resolute Strathglass defending from Scott Douglas and George Phimister in particular, kept Glenurquhart at bay until the break.
Shortly after the restart however Lewis Maclennan made it 3-0 when he outrageously first-timed the ball home from an acute angle. Glen then had a further period of pressure but it was another 20 minutes before the 4th goal via an excellent finish by Neale Reid.
Lewis Maclennan was then pulled back to defence with Fraser Heath moving up front and he grabbed the 5th in 76 minutes. Glen managers Billy Maclean and Davie Menzies then used the last 15 minutes to try out a few other positional changes and the final goal came from Ewan Brady in 89 minutes meaning that Glass hearts were well and truly broken on the day.
The Glen management were pleased enough with the result and the performance on a difficult surface.  In general the forwards played well. David Smart  had an excellent first half and both Neale Reid and Lewis Maclennan  looked very sharp.  The centreline was strong throughout and the defence though rarely really threatened, did what they had to do.  Particularly pleasing was another solid performance from Mike Brady, and Euan Lloyd also did well though he needs to execute his tackles with more precision. What this result means in wider terms though is unclear though the return of John Barr at full back gave a solidity to the side that was not apparent last week.
Glen full centre Arran Macdonald was awarded the Shewglie trophy for man of the match: his quick hands and clean hitting on a tricky pitch caught the eye of former Lochcarron full back Alan Mackenzie who was charged with picking the man of the match. That no easy task on a day when there was a number of contenders for the prize. Still Arran was well worth the trophy which he last won back in 2007.
Strathglass? They will come back. Josh Fraser is an excellent young talent and if only he had been one of the Glen Frasers he would have been in the Glen top team. Michael Stokes played well as did his brother Robbie until he took an unfortunate knock in the mouth. Darren Reid is a player too as is Donald Fraser even though he was at half pace. George Phimister is always hard to beat and Robert Geddes is still defying old father time. Good on him.
Most of the pictures are from Neil Paterson ( ) to whom the D is always grateful. The rest-Brad and Dunc, James and both team pics -are from the Treasurer who has his Canon digital Ixus in his pocket.
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