Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not an Orchid - not a MacTavish preview even.

Everything shinty related this last two weeks or so has been a distraction from the MacTavish final, hasn’t it? But what a lovely surprise for everyone in both camps to find out last weekend that two of the best loved figures in each camp have been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Both Glen’s Alan Bell and Lovat’s Mary Ann Henton

have given many years of service to their clubs and communities and it is good to see them and of course the ancient sport honoured in this way. Charlie Bannerman has a nice piece about both of them in this week’s Highland News – and while Charlie sometimes obsesses about football in the irritating way only a townie of his generation can, he hits a nice tone in this article. It is certainly worth a read.The up-coming MacTavish final is the real reason why this biased voice of Glen Shinty has been silent for the last two Saturdays. What’s to say? The top team has been on the back burner or the back foot - whatever metaphor you like - as the first team guys try to avoid injury and picking up caution cards.  The second team have had a pile of cup games all at once and given that the pressure was on for second team lads to step up to the main squad to fill in gaps caused by suspensions and niggling knocks, it has not been an easy time for either set of managers.

Kyles Athletic 1 Glenurquhart 0 (Orion Premiership)
There is no way that the above could be other than a disappointing result notwithstanding the fact that Kyles had knocked Newtonmore out of the Camanachd the week before. The game apparently turned on a very early strike for Kyles - Roddie Macdonald in the fourth minute - but in fact the Glen felt hard done by on their return north because they had a last minute equaliser ruled offside   - so it could not actually be an equaliser. The guys thought they were worth a share of the points. The pitch? Not good given the fact that this game was the second of two on a ground which is not great in wet conditions at any time of the year. Pity.

Lochaber 1 Glenurquhart 2 (Orion Premiership)
Lochaber must be sick of the Glen by now. They have not had a successful season but for all that they have capable players like all Premier Teams have. The last time they played the Glen, Lochaber were without Shaun Nicholson-he had damaged his back in the season’s previous encounter with the Glen – and this time he did not manage the full 90. Andrew Corrigan, John Barr, Ally Mackintosh and Mike Brady were left out of the Glen starting line-up for various reasons but the presence of Paul Mackintosh, Billy Urquhart and Ross MacAulay helped put a reasonable 12 on the field for the encounter.

James Macpherson put the Glen ahead with the only goal of the first half - his goals have been invaluable this session - and Billy Urquhart grabbed the second when he first timed a rebound off the keeper into the net to give the Glen the points in 81 minutes.

 Stuart Callison scored for Lochaber with two minutes to go but the Glen kept both points. Not much of a game to watch said the old guys in the pub but at least everyone returned to Nessieland with a full set of fingers and teeth.

Iain Macleod’s second team has had mixed fortunes in the past fortnight too: they too have won one and lost one but in as much as both these matches are cup games they have had knock on effects for the rest of the season. Both were close affairs.
Glenurquhart 3 Lovat 4 (Sutherland Cup)
This was a game which left Glenners saying “What if?”  What if in fact the Glen’s big players had put in a performance? What if Callum Smith had not been offshore?
Ben Hosie scored after 15 minutes but Lovat’s Thomas Fraser equalised 4 minutes later. There was no further first half scoring but Thomas Fraser scored two more for Lovat as they enjoyed a period of superiority largely due to the Glen’s inability to get to grips with Lovat centre man Sandy Tulloch who had an excellent afternoon. Referee Deek Cameron awarded the Glen a penalty on 78 minutes, Jack Hosie stepped up to convert. Lovat’s Scott Mackenzie made it 4-2 with what was to prove to be an important goal on 83 minutes and although Ben Hosie got his second goal a couple of minutes from time to make it 4-3, Lovat held on to get through to the next round, though it has to be said that the Glen had some clear chances to score the net earlier on.   

 Glenurquhart 2 Fort William 1 (Strathdearn Cup)
This was a tight game which the Glen did well to nick at the end. It was not an easy gig in any way and such was the shortage of players the Glen had to call on veteran Drew MacNeill to fill in at full back where he had a fine game.
Glen actually started well with the Hosie brothers (Jack and Ben) looking lively up front though the various chances the good lead up play created were not taken.

An early claim for a penalty for a kick by Fort goalie Ricky Fraser was dismissed and Gearasdan boys went on to take the lead thanks to a nice strike by Graham Campbell in 22 minutes. Jack Hosie slammed in the equaliser in 34 minutes and Glen went on to have a nice spell of pressure with Ben Hosie rattling a drive off the post with Fort keeper Fraser beaten.
The second half followed a similar pattern though the heavy rain falling on hard ground began to make conditions a little tricky and on one or two occasions sticks began to slip from hands. Fort’s Scott Knox took a nasty knock below the knee and had to go to the sidelines for a minute or two but was tough enough to return to the field after treatment.

Glen lost Brad Sneddon with a wrist injury a few minutes later but fortunately Ross MacDiarmid stepped in to take over in the backline and the Glen held firm. The
winning goal came in the 65th minute when Raymond Robertson managed to get a hard drive on target which was blocked by keeper Fraser but the ball fell kindly for Jack Hosie who fired it home from close range. Glen then fought hard to hang on to the win and were glad to make it through eventually to the semi-final and a date with destiny and Newtonmore wherever the tossed coin decrees.

 Glen have been lucky up to date with tossed coins so the law of averages probably means that we’ll be going for an afternoon out in Newtonmore. Let’s hope big John Mackenzie has to go stalking on the day - indeed perhaps Gary Mack could hire him for an afternoons hunting to keep him safely occupied!

And so to the MacTavish Cup final.  Preview or Déjà vu?  As the Chairman would say “May shinty be the winner.” For himself, the Wing Centre would actually prefer the Glen to win and could live with shinty being the loser even;  and if victory came from a mistimed sclaff of a shot in the 90th minute, then he could live with that too.
Pictures- Lochaber shots by Sheena Lloyd: the rest from the in-house photography unit of “D” Enterprises Ltd. Apologies to Mary Ann for the photo used. Tina had a nice one up on a site at one time but it could not be found and permission could not be sought. The only other one to hand was when she was holding the MacTavish last year and that one was never going to get past the editor's digital scissors. To be fair to both of them, Alan's permanently-clutched plastic bag has been cut from his snap -in one of the other (unused) pics he was holding a brolly with Lovat printed on it referring, it was claimed ,to the Lovat Arms Hotel in Fort Augustus. What are they like these celebrities !!

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