Friday, August 08, 2014

Glen are love-bombed by the English Shinty Association-but not by Kinlochshiel.

A disappointing 3-3 draw away against Kinlochshiel - though not upsetting to Shiel since the Glen’s lack of concentration has allowed their opponents another year in the top flight. Fair enough. Truthfully there is not a lot between the sides in the Premier and for that matter some of the sides in the National are fair enough too especially Fort William. Skye who are in North 1 are good too - too good apparently for their lowly division - though perhaps more of that later.
This last game at Kirkton perhaps encapsulates all that is good and not good about the Glen.
Fraser Heath started up front for the Glen and put the red and blacks ahead in 6 minutes with a superb strike when he picked up a through ball on the left, ran through the Shiel defence and fired an unstoppable shot past opposing keeper Scott Kennedy for the opener. Shiel also had their chances in this early part of the match but the best of their strikes which came from front man Gordy Macdonald was comfortably saved by Glen’s keeper Stuart Mackintosh. 
To the uninitiated of the Western world it probably looked like a superb save but “Smack” does that sort of thing every week – and if he didn’t he would find his place under pressure from Glen’s No 2 David MacFadyen who would be a first choicer in every other Premier outfit except Lovat and Inveraray. Kyles? Time Kenny was packing it in: he’s now older than all the managers and some of the referees. 
Glen scored a second goal in 25 minutes when Arran Macdonald and Fraser Heath combined neatly to put Neale Reid into a shooting situation and his drive deflected off the caman of Finlay Macrae into the net. It seemed a pity to credit Macrae with an own goal and deprive Reid of a goal to add to his tally. However just before half time the Glen should have gone 3 up when Reid was presented with a 1on1 situation with keeper Kennedy but this time he fired the ball wide.

It was a rejuvenated Shiel which came out in the second half with Keith Macrae reintroduced to the fray after starting the game on the bench due to a groin strain. He did make a difference but that was after Glen had to rejig their side due to a nasty head knock suffered by Fraser Heath caused by a careless piece of caman control from Shiel full back Paul Macrae who was rightly yellow carded for the offence.

The setback unsettled the Glen - Heath unusually had been playing up front to avoid confrontations of this sort before the Camanachd semi-final - and that allied to poor defending allowed Keith Macrae to win and then convert a free hit in the 60th minute. The momentum was now with Shiel and they equalised soon after through Duncan Macrae.The Glen management then reluctantly reintroduced Heath – heavily bandaged and also pushed defender Lewis Maclennan up front. John Barr who had also sat the game out with an eye on the semi, made an appearance late on and consequently the Glen once again took the lead with a superb goal from Neale Reid created once again by Heath.

That should have been enough for the Glen given that the clock was rapidly running down.  Shiel however had other ideas which given their League situation they certainly ought to have had and by dint of a mighty effort Gordy MacDonald managed to create an equaliser more or less all by himself.
Any lessons from this experience? Certainly. Take your chances and don’t give away silly goals. There is no doubt that the Glen went into this match with more than an eye on the Camanachd semi - the League competition at this stage is meaningless. Conventional wisdom says that Shiel wanted it more: what was disappointing though was that the Glen defenders lost three goals. One notable fixture apart the Glen defence has usually been miserly over giving away goals; they will have to be so once again. Best Glenner on the day? Probably Eddie Tembo who worked right to the end.
Anyway that was the season that was! No more home games for the top team and all those tourists won’t get charged a thing. Actually we should turn Blairbeg into a campsite for the next month or two.
Elsewhere, Kingussie did not hain the squad in their match against Newtonmore: it was a match which Newtonmore needed to win to clinch the League for themselves before Lovat, no doubt looking forward to a sesh at Belladrum, gifted it to them on Saturday. The difference? The return of the master. Ronald Ross is back with no doubt an eye to yet another Camanachd Cup win. Quite right too. Ronald is a top player; he could score goals with a walking stick and the prospect of playing Fort William in a semi and no Addie Robertson marking him will seem like a skoosh. He will probably even have done some training. Add to that the fact that Fort William do not look to have a defence capable of holding out both Ronald and Savio for a full 90 minutes. The one good thing is that Ronald certainly won’t be up against the Glen second team at Drum though with all their children most probably at Belladrum Blairbeg can look forward to hosting the mad old Uncles- Kevin, Michael and Rory. It’ll be a treat for the tourists to see these old monsters on Loch Ness side.

Last week too the Glen hosted the English Shinty Association which was nice, though it was sad to see that nearer home Lochbroom could not even manage to get a side together for a home game.  Our visitors were very friendly though one poor lassie had been very badly bitten by the midgies in Glenfinnan- and will probably not want to come back up to Pictland ever again. People should really be told to keep away from Glenfinnan (and Invergarry for that matter) for the whole of July and August on account of midgies and gartans both of which leave marks on everybody not just the summer visitors. No one would go to India in the monsoon or to Florida in the hurricane season so why do we give the impression that the West Highlands are a tourist attraction in July/August. Better to come to Loch Ness-side and the East Highland coast where the midge is an endangered species.

The English visitors trained with the Glen – and it has to be said that some of them had a clearer idea of what training actually meant than some Glenners –though when it came to sampling the hospitality in the Loch Ness Inn the Glenners usually have a fair idea of what that entails. There was the presentation of a ball and a shirt and the crack in the pub was how it used to be before teams got all professional and cleared off back home to play a round of golf before sunset. In the winter, in the old days, that wasn’t an option.

The decent pictures as always are from Neil Paterson. Thanks to him – again as always. The other pictures are from somebody else. The most symbolic picture is of English captain Matt Mossop receiving a replica shirt from Davie and Billy though the Treasurer wonders why we did not give them an old Glen shirt with Gleesons on it since they were an English company and we have heaps of them that we no longer wear. On the TV in the background is the Commonwealth Games. No it’s not a political statement ;nor is it ironic: it’s just what happened.

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