Thursday, August 28, 2014

Final? What final?

Wow! It’s pretty easy to imagine Ronald Ross as a latter day Han Solo- and Kingussie mastermind Russell Jones has had the cryogenically frozen shinty superstar defrosted and recycled in his team just in time for the Camanachd Cup Final on September 13th. Well it’s a theory that the Wing Centre heard proposed at the Glenurquhart Gathering on Saturday (or the Drum Games as it is more popularly known in Balmacaan Road and Druimlon) and that’s a thought only marginally more disturbing than the picture carried in Tuesday’s Inverness Courier of Strathglass’s Bruce “Pie” Douglas urging the Drum tug o’war team to tear up the Glen’s hallowed Blairbeg turf. He seemed to be smiling too. To make matters worse the main judge overseeing this was Newtonmore’s own Rab Ritchie. However, the grass will regrow – eventually but presumably not under Pie’s feet.
Anyway there’s been a whole week which has gone past now with the Glen in the Camanachd final- but what could you write about it? Glen simply had to beat Skye given the difference in divisions and where the teams are this season. If not then the whole of Blairbeg shinty pitch might as well be turned into a village camp site - the Italian camper vans are in the car park most of the time anyway-and the proceeds used to help the community buy more flower baskets. In the end the Glen came through relatively clearly, though it has to be said that the first twenty minutes, albeit affected by a strong wind, made for nervous spectating. Skye took an early lead but when Fraser Heath got on to the end of Dixie McLennan’s super shy and first timed a rocket past Jamie Gannon, the Glen’s fortunes began to turn. David Smart made it 2-1 when he fired a shot home through a ruck of players.
A nasty injury to Dixie Maclennan broke up the Glen rhythm for a time - and certainly caused a deterioration in their shy-taking abilities until Eddie Tembo moved across to take responsibility for all hit-ins.
In the second half with the wind now against them, Skye seemed to lose a bit of invention or perhaps it was that the Glen defenders began to dominate more. The Islanders did have attempts at goal but they seemed to be snatching at chances or shooting from too far out to trouble a top class keeper like Stuart Mackintosh. Glen  continued to try to play the passes and create the cleaner chances - John Barr kept forcing forward from buckshee - but the Skye defence played well though Neale Reid should have done better when he was presented with a clean strike just out from goal. Fraser Heath too seemed to fade somewhat in this portion of the game and failed to convert what seemed from the sidelines to be a straightforward chance. However Glen eventually worked a fine final strike when Neale Reid fired a rocket shot in on Gannon: the keeper got his stick to the ball and deflected it wide where it was intercepted by the ever energetic David Smart who worked it back into the path of James Macpherson and he fired it home to make the final score 3-1.

In the end, the Glen were comfortable enough winners though they played well enough as the selection of Mike Brady as man of the match proved. Defensively however, Glen will have to start at a higher tempo than they did since Kingussie are likely to be more sophisticated up front than Skye were on the day - and with Ronald back in the squad they are bound to be dangerous. Fort William handled Ronald well because they had a dominant midfield but the big ace still scored in normal play - and of course you cannot give away a penalty if you want to win against Kings.
There is no point in second guessing what the Glen will do - and there will probably have to be some big calls for the management to make before the game and on the day. The bottom line is however that the players will have to perform - but then again so will Kingussie who were probably fortunate to squeak through on penalties against Fort William in the other semi.

There was however another Glen game on the day - and that was a home tie for the seconds against Inverness. This was a game in which the under-17s had to play a big part given that a full squad was required for the semi at the Fort. However the side was boosted by the return of Calum Scott-Woodhouse to the side after a gap of around a decade.

 Under 14 Finlay Robertson also had to turn out along with youngster Ryan Porter. In the end a 0-0 against Inverness was a reasonable result though much reliance had to be placed on the defensive qualities of Dave MacFadyen and Paul Mackintosh.

What was more disappointing was the fact that so few supporters of the club were able to see the game because they were inclined to head early to Fort William to see the semi and thereby get through the stressful journey down the busy A82 in relative comfort. Given the fact that the first team has no League games left it is arguable that this fixture could have been held over to a later date, just as Kingussie’s might well have been last week.
Sadly the game was Jack Hosie’s last match. He now moves to England as his family have relocated. If he is lost to shinty it will be a great pity; he was an exceptional talent. The guys gave him a strip as a farewell gift. He wore it with distinction. Let’s hope he gets back North as soon as he can.

This Saturday the Glen seconds have to play Skye - the same Skye team which the Glen firsts beat in the big game - so it’s going to be a big ask for Iain Macleod’s side especially given the fact that they are going to have to face up to the Islanders without any senior help since the seniors are having a “friendly” with Kinlochshiel.
Anyway the thing which pleased the Wing Centre almost as much as the Camanachd semi result was the fact that the Shinty tribes in the Glen came together on the night before the Games to take part in the annual Zandra Mackintosh Memorial 6s on the Astroturf. Six teams competed with the usual mix of veterans, ladies and real players taking part in what was a very enjoyable pre games jamboree.

The eventual winners were the Town- and the player of the tournament was Ruth Forbes who played a strong part in that winning combo which is pictured. Also pictured is Donald Paul as he welcomes everyone to the tournament and of course winning captain Liam Girvan receives the trophy from Anna Macdonald
The main pics from both games are from Sheena Lloyd but the one that lifts the heart is from Drew MacNeil and it’s of wee Isla and the rainbow. The rainbow appeared when we beat Inveraray and there it was again at Fort William. Let’s hope it comes back at the Bught.

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