Kicking our heels , waiting for the day……
Glenurquhart 7 Kingussie 0 (Marine Harvest North Division 1)It’s now getting near to the business end of the season for the Glen. No need to dwell on what that might entail but it is certainly appropriate to deal with the most recent match-the North Division 1 home game against Kingussie. The main problem confronting Manager Iain Macleod’s selection plans was Belladrum and quite frankly it looks like that is going to be an on-going problem for shinty in the Inverness area. The majority of the young lads in the second time opted to go to Belladrum, so Iain Macleod’s team had to pull in a number of players from the first team which fortunately enough had no fixture.
There was no other alternative though certainly included in the side were three younger lads who have not really featured much in the side so far this season- and they were probably too young to head to Belladrum without adult supervision. Whatever - the team which turned out was an extremely strong side and it faced up to a Kingussie side which with the exceptions of Russell Menzies, Scott Macintyre, Rory Mackeachan and Chris Hollysong was their current under-17 squad. The old guys whom we have faced in the past were absent for various reasons and none was missed more than Kevin Thain, though Ronald Ross could probably have just squeaked into the team if he had not been needed elsewhere.
Given Glen’s experienced side - the main top teamers were Arran Macdonald and Lewis Maclennan - there was only ever going to be one result so the interest lay in how the game was played. It was, despite the final score, very interesting not to say entertaining at least as far as the first half went. Indeed Kingussie started strongly because they have some lovely young shinty players in their side and the experienced Glen defenders - lack of personnel meant that Drew MacNeil had to fill in at full back and with Stuart Reid and Paul Mackintosh also in the defence - had to look lively to keep up with the willing running of Jack and Ruaraidh Anderson as well as that of James Falconer who has already played at Drum this season in the Kings’ first team despite his tender years. It is always tricky for an experienced senior player to play against a much smaller player because physical challenges are so unequal they are bound to look unfair and so the only thing that can be done is to use one’s experience to read the game better and move the ball quickly.
Glen took a little while to adapt to this and for the first ten minutes they were all over the place - and in that period Kingussie had a chance to go ahead but hit the bar with a drive.
After this period Glen’s strong centre line took control of the game and from this point on it became one way traffic. In 15 minutes Glen pressure forced a penalty which Lewis Maclennan struck home superbly.
The Glen’s second goal came in 24 minutes when a corner out on the right evaded the Kingussie defence and Maclennan glanced the ball past Kingussie keeper Russell Menzies from a narrow angle. Two minutes later Bradley Dickson, whose pace was proving a problem for the visiting defence, picked up a through ball from the Glen centreline and turned it out to Raymond Robertson and his low shot found its way into the corner of the Kingussie net for Glen’s third goal of the afternoon. Then the game from a Glen perspective went flat – though Kingussie continued to perform well in attack whenever the ball came through while their defence especially Macintyre and the increasingly acrobatic Menzies stood firm and kept the score at half-time down to 3-0.
The second half was a big improvement in that the side showed a more positive approach to their shinty. The introduction of James Macpherson and the fact that the side went 2-2 up front helped spread the Kingussie defence a little more effectively which in the end created chances which eventually were taken. Lewis Maclennan completed his hat trick in 60 minutes with a well taken strike and then the Glen’s fifth came when Kingussie keeper Menzies stopped a high ball from Maclennan with his chest but failed to clear it decisively and James Macpherson fired it home from a narrow angle. Youngster Ryan Porter got the next goal for Glen when he followed up a strike to poke the ball home from close range in 69 minutes and Macpherson smashed home the seventh goal of the afternoon two minutes later.
By this stage Glen had introduced their two remaining youngsters Jon Bremner and Jamie Maclennan and the latter was denied a goal by a fine save from Russell Menzies who, despite a slip or two, played well all afternoon.
He seemed very keen on entertaining the crowd on one occasion by firing a loose ball out of the field, across the A82, over Alistair the Baker’s house and into the wood. This probably puts him up on that small list of the Glen all-time greats because it’s hard to think of many apart from Donald Paul Mackintosh and Arran Macdonald who can comfortably hit the ball right over that house. Lewis Maclennan once put the ball down a chimney in St Drostan’s but that is another story.
In the end Glen won 7-0 convincingly and it is always hard to pat yourself on the back after a match like this because Kingussie had a much less experienced team on the field. However the performance of the Glen’s youngest players - Ryan Porter, Jamie Maclennan and Jon Bremner - gives cause for optimism for the future. Drew Maclennan at full centre was however the best Glenner on the day : he is always an intense and committed player and the only disappointment is that he took a nasty blow on the foot in the last two minutes of the match which means he must now must be a doubt for next Saturday.
Elsewhere Ronald Ross won the other Camanachd semi for Kingussie with a goal in real time and two penalties in the shootout at the end. He kept his technique and his nerve and got both balls on target out of what was basically a mini-bunker. Credit too must also go to Kings goalie Craig Dawson who made the saves that mattered - the Wing Centre should have been more generous to the big fellow when describing goalies last week. He kept the Glen out in the Premier League game in Kingussie and he did the same with the Fort penalties on Saturday. We have no snaps of Mr Dawson but we do of the King’s keeper who came to Drum this past week. That is why the focus this week in the pictures will be on visiting keeper Russell Menzies. He did struggle a bit, for obvious reasons, when the rain started to get heavier. There is also a snap of the Kingussie old guys on the sidelines.
Apparently the Glen face up to Skye in the other Camanachd Semi this weekend. The Wing Centre will not go to the game because seeing it will obviously prejudice his opinion when he comes to write about it next week -or not- as the case may be. Instead he will watch it on TV- Gilleasbuig should be required to commentate rather than play- but he will switch off the sound and listen to Ally Bruce on Cuillin FM. Why? Just because.
Thanks to Sheena Lloyd for most of the pictures and to Donald Cameron for his help too, His picture is number 7.