'More are the merrier
If you think about it the biggest disappointment last weekend in Glen Shinty was not the defeat by Newtonmore; it was actually the fact that with the cancellation of the GMA visit to play the Sutherland Cup match, the Glen seconds will now have gone nearly a month without a game in which young players can be used. Why is that a big deal? Simply because of the fact that the Glen youngsters are playing “out of their league” in the sense that at least six of their matches are against what would be have been seen as first team sides last season – Strathglass, Skye and Inverness- and manager Iain Macleod is concerned at risking 14 and 15 year olds against these teams filled with experienced players. The GMA match would have allowed him to play these young lads- certainly Lachie Smith, Liam Robertson and Jamie Maclennan would have featured-against at least some players in their own age group.
Last year when the League consisted of genuine second teams there is no doubt these young lads would have played every week-indeed some of them more or less did- : this year these same young lads and one or two just behind them must be getting frustrated with their lack of involvement and truthfully the situation is just not quite good enough and the Glen management must hope that these and other youngsters have the patience to stick with the sport until their chance can come.
GMA weren’t the only side to be unable to field a team in the Sutherland: Aberdour also found they were unable to get enough guys to go to Lochbroom while in the Balliemore, Strachur were unable to get a quorum big enough to justify a pile of money traveling to Skye.
All three games involved huge journeys for the visiting side– and the Wing Centre guesses that player availability was compromised not only by the prospect of a long day’s journey lasting into night but also by the fact that in some areas of the country schools had shut for the Easter break and youngsters were probably not available for the games due to being on holiday.
Can this be fixed? Maybe not perfectly but when you ask the kids they will tell you they want to play games and they want to do so every week- and if shinty can’t provide them with that then other sports perhaps will.
Perhaps it can be fixed if we can make the early rounds regional in nature which will ensure that teams do not have to spend the whole day away from home. It may also be that we need to look at being more flexible over when these games should be played, though with many youngsters due to be sitting exams in the next month or so that may be easier to think about than do.
The Glen being the Glen of course many of the second team lads actually did not miss out on a game at all. They got a call up for the first team to face Newtonmore. Glen started this game missing 8 players whom they would normally expect to participate in a first team squad. Gone through injury or other availability problems were James Macpherson Andrew Corrigan, and David Smart . Added to that Arran Macdonald and Neale Reid were unavailable and to make matters worse Fraser Heath came down with flu on the morning of the match while Billy Urquhart suffered another flare up of his back injury To make matters worse Dave “Dixon” Maclennan was delayed and missed the start of the match.
As far as the game itself was concerned, it went pretty well as might be expected against the Champions given Glen’s understrength team. Newtonmore had the bulk of the early pressure and struck a couple of decent chances wide; the Glen then settled down and looked quite comfortable in defence until Fraser Mackintosh fired in from a corner after 20 minutes.The match continued in a similar vein until half time with ‘More having plenty of the ball but despite that they managed no further scoring. Newtonmore continued to dominate in the second half and the game was effectively lost in a ten minute spell when Fraser Mackintosh scored his 2nd after 50 minutes and then Danny MacRae added 2 more in 55 and 60 minutes.
There was a real danger that the red and blacks could have been heading for a very heavy defeat, however the managers took Ewan Brady back to full centre where he played very well and Glen actually came more into the game, culminating in an excellent strike from Lewis around the 80 minute mark to make the final score 4 -1.
In conclusion, if the Glen had to be extremely understrength, then this was probably not the worst game for it to have happened. The 2nd team boys who came in all put in a very good shift against top players.
John Barr and Mike Brady were again solid at the back while Ewan Brady did well when brought back to the centre line.
The unexpected re-appearance of the excellent Danny MacRae from injury pretty well summed up the Glen’s day.
Some of the side’s more experienced players did not have their greatest day in the red and black, but as they spent most of the match under pressure and on the back foot, one could not be over critical.
To conclude on a more positive note there was nothing in the Newtonmore team to dissuade any Glenner from the point of view that given a full Glen team, they are beatable. The real trick for the Glen will be to get the squad that put 4 past ‘Shiel back fit and ready to face them though-not an easy ask.
As for Newtonmore they played as well as they needed to. They are side that do the simple things simply-all are good hitters and all are strong players who are very hard to shift off the ball once they are on it. Remember when you were wee and you used to get fruit cocktail with condensed milk for Sunday pudding; that’s what you get with this Newtonmore team. Good old fashioned hearty, even retro shinty-maybe that’s what all shinty should be- not patting the ball about as if the pitch was some new-fangled Astro turf. On the other hand it might be good if the Glen could manage that more often too. It will be interesting to see how Lovat cope with them this weekend.
Thanks to Sheena Lloyd for all the pictures. Good to see Cork up to take in the match.