Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Day of Mixed Fortunes

A disappointing day and then a day of relief - that just about sums up Saturday’s afternoon entertainment. The Glen seconds - woefully short - managed to play reasonably without completely capitulating and the top team were able to rescue a point when it mattered. What does it say about the rest of the season? Probably too much and at this stage it is not going to be said.
Glenurquhart 0 Kinlochshiel 2
This was always going to be a most tricky afternoon since ‘Shiel are more or less back to business with a full team while Glen were short. Short? Don’t mention it to Glen second team boss Iain Macleod because when the top side are down then his side, particularly in the circumstances of Saturday, struggles to exist. Doubtless it is not a situation which affects the Glen alone.
Enough of that. Glen played as well as the players on display could without really having a cutting edge. In the absence of Paul Mackintosh- off to Kirkton –the full back was youngster James Hurwood and he certainly put in a shift. He showed excellent touches that on another day could have been put to more effective use further forward. Also in the picture was new signing Connor Golabek, a former Glen under 17,  and while he struggled a little at full forward against the experienced Kinlochshiel full back, he came into his own more when he was pulled back to the centreline and certainly showed good movement and positional awareness.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle though and a defensive mistake allowed Chris Townsend through to score the opener for Shiel in 37 minutes, a loss the excellent David MacFadyen in goals did not really deserve.

Glen brought on the experienced Donald Fraser at full forward for the second half but although he dug in and put in the challenges, his touch was off and the few chances that fell in the Glen’s direction, and there were several, were unable to be converted. It was even enough at this point but a nicely worked goal from Shiel’s Fergus Dobson just after halftime put the game out of Glen’s reach. Glen then came back into it for a period, pushing towards the traditional shop end but despite causing occasional panic in the visitors’ defence the goals would not come.

A highlight of the game was the performance of the Glen youngsters: Jamie Maclennan had a particularly good match and stuck to his task despite taking a knee knock in the first half. His second half performance and particularly his fitness were impressive.

Fergus Robertson on the wing also played well against an older opponent and of course David Macfadyen in goals was his own secure self. For the Wing Centre however the Glen man of the match was Cairn Urquhart. You can’t really go wrong with a boy whose name is the same as that of the team. Cairn worked, ran, chased, harried and never gave up: at the end of the match he was exhausted, with nothing to show for it but the respect of the old guys watching. He gave everything and now the Wing Centre is going to use Sheena’s photo of him as the screensaver on his phone, replacing that one of Billy with the Cup!!
Positive? Yes. This was as good a result as the Glen was ever going to get considering the inexperience of the team. Will we do better? Yes. Will we do worse? Depends on who we play, in every sense.
Memo to Dunc Achtuie: when you get a knock fall down on the field of play. That way Archie the ref will have to stop the game. Go off the field with your injury and your mates have to carry on a man short. It’s not really cheating!

Kinlochshiel 1 Glenurquhart 1
While the home game was going on there was a background mood of insecurity since the news had come down from the west that Shiel were leading. Goalscorer? Unsure but the guess was a Macrae. So in a sense the crowd was prepared for loss and considering the absence of the experienced players then truthfully folk were thankful it was not more. Then came the equaliser from Heathie, via twitter it would appear and a collective sigh which was as much a cheer as could be mustered, ran round the stand.
How did the game go?

Have a read of what the Skye website says:

 Shiel were still without the injured Duncan “Ach” MacRae. Glen’s John Barr was free of suspension but work commitments ruled out Andrew Corrigan. Keith MacRae put Kinlochshiel ahead with a goal after 13 minutes. The goal came from a free-hit on the ‘Shiel left. John MacRae played the ball off to the right and Keith MacRae hammered it into the roof of the net from around 20 yards out.
However Fraser Heath rescued a point for the Glen with his third goal of the season just 8 minutes from time. Glen were awarded a free-hit when Heath was fouled. The Scotland U21 international initially looked to take it himself but left it for Ewan Brady. Heath ran wide before cutting in towards the centre of the edge of the D and he latched onto Brady’s ball into the D before tucking it past ‘Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy from close range to make it 1-1.

And that appears to be pretty good as far as it goes though there is no mention of the other three Glen absentees - Euan Lloyd, Billy Urquhart and Stuart Reid which is not a surprise as managers don’t usually broadcast their weaknesses.
Next week it’s the MacTavish v Beauly over at Braeview. Let’s just wait and see.
The pictures are from Sheena Lloyd and those atmospheric ones from Kirkton are from David Win who put them up on World of Shinty. Thanks to both.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Discovering the Power of Positive Thinking-umm –not sure about that.

“You have to be more positive,” said the Master Plumber to the Wing Centre as they drove along the A82 in pursuit of enlightenment. “Shinty has continued over the years despite all its difficulties. Just like the Games. The last thing it needs is someone being depressed about it: that will just make it worse…”
The Wing Centre had been ranting about something he saw in the Courier. Piles of money was being promised for sports facilities at the Bught - a velodrome, a rugbydrome, a tennisdrome- but he did not read anything about a shintydrome! It worried him that Inverness would lose its outside Bught pitch to a caravan park- and that there was no word of doing up the old wooden shinty stand at the very home of the native sport. How could the Camanachd Association have let that go by without a cheep? When you needed them, where were all the Councillors who had drunk the free Glenmorangie in the past and eaten the Marine Harvest smoked salmon vol-au-vents more recently?
Indeed, where was Donald Stewart when you needed him?
The Master Plumber was not impressed. “I’m too busy living in the here and now to worry about existential problems especially when they are concerned with shinty. Things will work out. After all Highlanders couldn’t make up their minds whether to spell their names Macdonald or MacDonald. And even then they were never sure if it was Mc or Mac. What happened? Nothing. They still all got called up for the First War and bit the dust in equal numbers with or without a capital. Both teams won on Saturday - why don’t we talk about that?”
And so the conversation in the van turned to the fact that Iain Macleod’s bunch of kids had crossed the watershed to take on a Lochcarron/Lochbroom select and managed to come back with two points. One goal scored but two points granted.
It turned out that Dunk Achtuie got the goal and that a description had been given that implied it was a fabulous strike. Cairn Urquhart had fired a shot across the field from some distance out and Dunk had seemingly stuck up his stick, guided the ball on to the oxter of a passing guillemot from whence it rebounded, confusing Lochcarron goalkeeper Peter Mackenzie and ended up in the net.    It was a goal that will live for ever in the annals of Glen shinty lore.
At the other end Glen keeper David MacFadyen had a couple of excellent early saves before turning acrobatic in order to save a screamer from Gregor Cushnie. Lochcarron put in plenty effort but full back Paul Mackintosh stood firm supported by James Hurwood, Lachie Smith and Liam Robertson. The rest of the lads in front also had to put in a shift because notwithstanding their present predicament some of the Carranachs have plenty experience at a reasonably exalted level. From a Glen point of view the game was notable not only for the inclusion of three youngsters-Finlay Robertson, Ryan Porter and Jamie Maclennan- but also for the return to Glen colours of Andrew Young.
Down in Inveraray the first team without John Barr managed to win 2-0 in a match which the Wing Centre had considered before-hand to be a difficult contest. The fact that the A82 was blocked by a boulder and the lads had to make a detour round by Inverness and the south shore only added to the pressure. It turned out all right in the end though as always there was a price to pay: Euan Lloyd tweaked a hamstring and had to come off. He also got himself booked as did Ewan Brady though neither fared as badly as Euan MacMurdo who picked up a straight red and a two game rest. You have to wonder what ref Billy Wotherspoon has against boys who are called Euan/Ewan.
Inveraray were without David MacPherson as he was due to run the Barcelona Marathon in aid of the Beatson Charity the following day. They were also missing John Kennedy and Garry Macpherson which tends to suggest that they were not liable to perform at the highest so the fact that John Barr had to serve a one match ban for a points accumulation carried forward from the end of last season was never quite as significant as it might have been. The Glen went ahead 4 minutes before the break when Lewis MacLennan fired a dipping 20 yard shot in from the right which was stopped by Inveraray keeper Graham MacPherson. However the ball got caught up underneath his feet and Fraser Heath ran in to knock the ball over the line from only a yard out.
Glen sealed the win 15 minutes from time when Heath got his second after some superb passing and movement involving the whole of the Glen forward line. Heath pushed the ball to James MacPherson on the left, around 25 yards from goal. MacPherson slipped the ball back to the forward-running Heath and he flicked the ball over his marker, who slipped, and this allowed the Scotland U21 international time to volley the ball into the net to make it 2-0.* (This description was pinched from the Skye website which is by far the most reliable source to pinch things from- and the Wing Centre of all people should know this)  
All said and done, it was a fine result and it certainly made the four hour journey back up the A82 a little more bearable.
Saturday however sees both Glen sides face up to Kinlochshiel and with them both being somewhat shorthanded it will be a tricky afternoon for the red and blacks particularly up at Kirkton where there is for the first time in ages a full and fit squad.
“There you go,” said the Master Plumber, “getting all down about it. Our lot are as good as anybody.”
“If only they believed it”, said the Wing Centre.
The picture of Fadgy has been captured by Garry Mack, El Presidente ;the rest have been composed by Sheena Lloyd. Thanks to both.
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Monday, March 02, 2015

Glen retain Macdonald Cup against a stuffy Strath side.


Glenurquhart retained the Macdonald Cup with a clear 3-0 victory over ancient rivals Strathglass and while the result was decisive enough, it was a competitive game and a number of the young Strathglass players showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in North Division 1 this season.
Last week the Glen ran out 5-1 winners over visitors Kilmallie and it has to be said the margin of victory was a bit of a surprise to all at Balbeg. It must be remembered though that Kilmallie were without their young keeper and they had to weaken their outfield from the start of the match by pulling Michael Rodgers back into goals. Added to that they suffered a number of unfortunate injuries including one which may come back to haunt them later in the season-namely an ankle knock to John Stewart who has been without fail their most high profile player over the last decade.
The Glen’s goals were fine and for the most part well taken and one was especially fine-goal number 2 which came in 25 minutes. Fraser Heath knocked a ball out to Eddie Tembo and he fired over a high ball to the far post where Lewis Maclennan was on hand to glance it into the net with the heel of his club.
This week’s Macdonald Cup encounter was refereed by John Angus Gillies of Skye and it commenced as was appropriate with a minute’s silence in memory of the late Dolly Fraser of Shewglie. Dolly was an institution in the Glen and a lifelong supporter along with her late husband Danny who was one of the folk who instigated the revival of shinty in the Glen in 1948.
The opening stages of the match were very even though the Glen put together some fluent forward moves which unfortunately did not result in an accurate shot on goal. As against Kilmallie the Glen defence marshalled by John Barr and club captain Andrew Corrigan played well and denied the Strathglass forwards clear opportunities on goal though it has to be said that they made Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh look lively on a couple of occasions. At the other end Strath keeper Steve MacLachlan was in fine form and kept the Glen out until the 31st minute when buckshee back Michael Stokes, who had a fine game throughout conceded a free hit some 20 yards out. Lewis Maclennan quickly slipped the ball forward to Neale Reid and on the turn he whipped it past MacLachlan for the opener.

To the frustration of the Glen crowd there was no further scoring in the first half, though Lewis Maclennan had a strike ruled offside – and at the break the Glen management rang the changes. Eddie Tembo came on in the centreline and James “Frosty” Macpherson took his place in the forefront of the attack leaving Reid and Maclennan in supporting roles. The changes did not immediately take effect though Strath keeper MacLachlan made a series of excellent saves. Glen continued to press and eventually with 20 minutes to go made the breakthrough- James Macpherson fired a shot on target and the rebound from keeper MacLachlan fell to Neale Reid who poked it home. Within 10 minutes the Glen went three ahead when Macpherson latched on to a through ball and dispatched it purposefully past MacLachlan to put the issue beyond doubt.

After the match Glen captain Andrew Corrigan was presented with the Cup and retiring chairman Russell Fraser also received a presentation to mark his stepping down from the Club hot seat.
Player of the match? The Shewglie trophy went to Steve MacLachlan the Strathglass keeper for services rendered.

There were a number of other Strath players who turned in performances in particular youngster Josh Fraser who has excellent pace and stick work and Sam Todd at wing centre also played his part but the Wing Centre cannot sign off this match without a mention to Strathglass full back Donald Fraser- and the Wing Centre got the story from the mouth of the Treasurer himself. The Treasurer was going round the field doing a collection and happened to stop beside goal judge Billy Macleod of Glen fame and Alan Macleod the ex-Strath keeper. As the conversation continued the Treasurer lost focus on the match and suddenly realised that Donald Fraser was heading back towards the “D” to challenge Neale Reid and to save a probable goal he would have to play the ball out for a corner. If he drove it out full strength he was definitely going to do the Treasurer a mischief since he was less than 10 yards away. If it had been another Strath player there would have been no mercy-teach the old Glenner a lesson- but Donald is a true gent. He quickly buckled his wrist and chipped the ball high over the Treasurer’s balding pate. As he did so he gave a wee grin which let the Treasurer know that he had done it deliberately to save the distress of a fellow Fraser. No-one else in the crowd would have realised what had happened except the two Macleods who being Macleods had scuttled out of the way sharpish.
Earlier in the day, the Glen under 14s picked up the Slater’s Arms Cup courtesy of a 4-0 win over Strathglass youngsters. It was an entertaining game and the Glen goals came from Jed Stoddart (2) and Fergus Robertson (2). Glen captain full-back John Peteranna was presented with the cup by Jimmac Mackintosh former proprietor of the Slater’s.

Talking of presentations the final picture shows Glen Chieftain Alan Bell handing over a cheque for £1000 to the manager of the Glenurquhart Care Centre Carolanne Mainland. This money was raised at the Xmas SwINNdle which was organised by the Shinty Club and Isla Urquhart of the Loch Ness Inn with prizes, as was mentioned in an earlier blog, kindly provided by the Miller family of Loch Ness Gifts. We couldn’t avoid a second mention of this because the picture is so sweet in that it shows Centre user Tom Cave (l) and Alan (r) pinching a kiss from the mum of two Lovat players.

Finally and still on a charity theme , a cheque for £300 raised at Saturday’s Macdonald Cup match will be winging its way to the Isle of Skye as our contribution to the “Lucky 2B Here” heart-start charity set up a few years ago by Skye Camanachd’s Ross Cowie.

The pictures are from Sheena Lloyd , apart from the last one which shows the trophy back in its rightful place in the Loch Ness Inn where former Strathglass "hero" Roy Mackenzie was able to see it at close quarters for the first time in many years!!

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