Glen lock antlers with Caberfeidh in the MacTavish
Glenurquhart 2 Caberfeidh 0 (R.B.S. MacTavish Cup-quarter final)
This past Saturday , Glen progressed to the semi-finals of the MacTavish Cup with a 2-0 victory over National League challengers Caberfeidh - and now for the third time in a row the club face the prospect of meeting Newtonmore for the privilege of a place in the final at the Bught. Two years ago at Blairbeg, Glen lost out to ‘More on penalties after extra time in the semi; last year Glen sneaked past the Badenoch boys in the semi at the Eilean. However they fell at the final hurdle so to speak when they lost on penalties once again, this time to Lovat.
Indeed for a while in the first half of Saturday’s encounter it looked as if the Glen might fail to hit the net against Cabers. That was down to two things: the Cabers defenders playing well and the Glen forwards not taking the chances which they created. Did Cabers create many chances of their own? Not really but the Glen spectators always expected them to do so and the home fans were always on edge because their side had gone into the game without two key defenders-Andrew Corrigan and Ally Mackintosh. However, in the end that fact did not matter too much because the Glen midfield remained in control for most of the match and as a result the red and black front men did get a more than adequate supply of ball to be working with. Work with it they did, and everything went right except the final product. It is no small praise to the Cabers defenders, especially to full back Lee Nichol, to point out that the Glen forwards, at nearly full strength, approached them with respect and attacked them with the usual high tempo game that is required for Premier League progress. For the first half the Cabers defenders matched them in that they were quick to the tackle and did not allow the Glen front men to take more time over their attacking moves. Was the time there to be taken? Probably not.
Not much really happened for the first ten minutes or so except that it was clear that Cabers fresh from putting eight goals past Bute, were certainly up for the game. Both sides looked to be on their toes and the lively pitch was more of a help to the forwards of both sides than it was to the defenders.
Glen’s first chance came in the 10th minute when Fraser Heath, playing up front for the second week in a row, slipped a ball through to Lewis Maclennan but he hit his shot past the post. Heath himself put a shot by a few minutes later and again Maclennan was wasteful when he fired a drive over the bar in 17. Glen had the majority of the pressure by this stage and the forwards were playing the ball about neatly but tenacious Cabers defending always denied them the space for a clean final strike. Heath and Maclennan again combined well in 28 minutes but the ball once more flew past and then from one of the man Glen corners at this stage Maclennan peeled off to the back post but could not get a clean connection. By this stage, though Cabers were digging in and had an occasional foray forward with the powerful Ali Maclennan. For the Glen the return of David Smart to the forwardline was clearly paying off. Smart has an excellent touch and when he is firing on all cylinders his running with the ball and his ability to link up with Fraser Heath, Neale Reid and Lewis Maclennan brings another dimension to the Glen forward play. If you factor in the eventual return from injury of James Macpherson then the Glen will have five front men of Premier League quality.
The test is of course the actual scoring of a goal- and the spectators had to wait until just after the half time break for the Glen to nose ahead. Neale Reid picked up on a pass through from midfield and flicked the ball to Smart. His first strike was blocked by the defence but the ball bounced back to him just enough and this time his strike flew past David Mellis in the Cabers’ goal to give the Glen a well-deserved lead.
Glen maintained their grip on the game through solid midfield play with Eddie Tembo outstanding on his side of the field. His shies in particular were excellent as were those taken by Arran Macdonald on the other side of the park while Ewan Brady in the middle carried on where he left off the previous week, though unfortunately he took a nasty face knock halfway through the second period which held him back for 10 minutes or so. Not that it mattered because by that time David Smart had struck a second fine goal for the Glen and there was no way back for Cabers though Mellis distinguished himself with a number of excellent saves especially a fantastic overhead stop save off a Neale Reid rocket.
The Glen management rang the changes bringing on Raymond Robertson up front for Maclennan, Calum Smith for Arran Macdonald in the midfield and Ross MacAulay for Euan Lloyd in the back row and although there was a chance or two for further goals near the end, the Cabers defenders were solid to the end.
Cabers as always brought a nice crowd of fans with them though given that it’s been about five years since we last played them, some of the familiar old faces were absent. Such is life.
Inverness 2 Glenurquhart 2 (Marine Harvest North Division 1)
By the time we got to the last quarter of the Cabers game however word had come through from the Inverness match that forward Cairn Urquhart had sustained a head knock and that Dave Maclennan had been shown a red card in the match so by 4 pm the focus of concern had shifted somewhat from the immediate game at Blairbeg.
This game had been picked up by the P&J and the Courier as being a special one because the managers on each side were brothers: Alan Macleod for Inverness and of course Iain Macleod for the Glen.
Dougie Rankin gave Inverness an early lead in the fourth minute. Glen came back into the match in the next period and were rewarded when Referee Archie Ritchie penalised the town goalie for charging a forward inside the D and awarded the visitors from the Glen a penalty on 32 minutes. Daniel Mackintosh kept his nerve and fired the spot hit home to level the tie
Glenurquhart went ahead a minute into the second half through a nice strike from Cairn Urquhart but Dougie Rankin brought Inverness back on level terms with a 58 minute strike. By most accounts the game was quite a physical encounter and Mark Sproule from Inverness and Dixie MacLennan from Glenurquhart were both sent off on the hour mark after a scuffle following the accidental injury to Cairn Urquhart. The point apiece means that both sides now climb the table; Glenurquhart to third place, whilst Inverness move up a position to sixth.
The pictures of the Cabers game (2,3,4 & 5) were provided by Neil Paterson (www.neilgpaterson.com/) -and those from Inverness-including the one of the brothers-by Donald Cameron (http://www.photoboxgallery.com/noremacpix/collection?album_id=2404973092)
Apart from the picture of Hail keeper Fadgy's balletic behaviour, the snaps that intrigue ,taken by the Glen's own CCTV cameras, are those of Camanachd Assessor Henry MacInnes as he infiltrates the ground in disguise wearing his shades and trying to look like a Cabers official in his blue gear. The first pic right at the top of the article has him mingling with the Glen old guys who are very hospitable to him because they think he’s with Cabers. Finally his disguise rumbled Henry manages a rueful smile. Brad trying to do his giant-killer act against big Marty is also rather unusual as a visual image though it is doubtful if Brad was in any position to appreciate it aesthetically.
The injury to Cairn? A cut above the eye which took a few stitches to close but which was caused when he accidentally slipped just as his opponent swung.
Things like that can happen but the fact that Cairn was wearing a helmet, as all youngsters must, did help matters. Such knocks, despite the way the sport is stereotyped, are extremely rare in shinty and should be kept in perspective. It is however up to all who love the game whether they are players, referees or other officials to make sure that such injuries are kept to a minimum and where they do occur that they are dealt with promptly and efficiently.