Finally, Eventually, Magically……………………the MacTavish is won.
Newtonmore 1 Glenurquhart 3
The scenes of revelry by night had moved on seamlessly into the morning when the Wing Centre came across the Chairman in his tartan finery and still to the fore on the field of battle.
Mr Chairman paused for a moment then said “It has to be the way Newtonmore Shinty Club handled their defeat. It must have been a sickener to lose after beating us twice this year already - and yet they all came over and congratulated us generously and they really meant it. That is real class - you have to hand it to them”The Wing Centre had to agree - and adds his own congratulations to the representatives of a great Club.
And so finally after years of trying and huge disappointments on the way, you get a euphoric day like Saturday when if you are truthful you started out hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. You can be confident that you have done all you could to make sure all the players are ready and they know what to do but you just never know. The unforeseen can---will--- always happen.
Remember the Camanachd final when Cork broke a bone in his foot inside ten minutes and before we could get over that psychological blow we found ourselves a goal behind. On Saturday other things happened and the Glen got their name on a cup which had eluded the Club ever since old Duncan MacTavish put it up for grabs back in 1898.
Tradition is important in every shinty club and while the world knows that the Glen have been on the go for a while - the clue is in the date on the badge - not so many know that they first contested a MacTavish final against Newtonmore back in 1902. That game was drawn but the replay lost and since then though they have made the MacTavish final on several occasions, the Glen have never won it till now.
It is hard to explain to people not in tune with shinty what a win like Saturday’s MacTavish victory actually means. Perhaps even folk in Badenoch don’t appreciate what a shinty cup victory means to other clubs since over the years they have won so many - though the players certainly would - but Neale Reid spoke nicely and summed matters up perfectly in his half-time interview. It was for the village and for the old boys and for everybody in the community. It’s tricky to get that through to the non shinty folks but it is vitally important that we do so especially at a time when the Glen is changing, growing and perhaps turning into everywhere else. Never mind - Neale spoke well and then went on to perform well and the picture taken of him this week contrasts with the one that concludes the previous post.
Saturday afternoon was dull and cold and when the Glenners arrived it was dampish as well- and the game? From the outset it was clear that Glenurquhart had learned the lessons of two earlier defeats to Newtonmore and they set out to deny the Newtonmore midfield space and possession. This cut down the supply of balls up to the usually deadly ‘More forwards and the Premier League’s top scorer Glen Mackintosh and his sidekick Evan Menzies never quite managed to get going. They certainly had chances to shoot but the sense was that they were not only having a go from too far out but they also were not accurate enough.
At the other end, Glenurquhart forced several corners and almost took the lead when a strike from wing centre Conor Golabek was pushed on to the post by ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie.On the 20 minute mark, Newtonmore lost full centre Jamie Robinson. Frustrated by the close attentions of opposite number Ally Mackintosh he lashed out with his caman and received an immediate red card from referee Evan Macrae. It was the pivotal point in the game and it left the Glen a man ahead and in a gruelling physical contest played on the wide green spaces of the Bught that imbalance in numbers could only help the Glen.
Before Newtonmore had time to adjust Glenurquhart took the lead when a corner from Iain Macleod was knocked back by full forward Fraser Heath. The ball fell to Andrew Corrigan who tried a shot at goal but his shot was intercepted and pushed wide by Neale Reid to Heath who found himself free at the back post and smashed the ball high into the net for the opener.
Glenurquhart should have added further goals before the break but excellent covering by international full back Norman Campbell and some frantic work by his fellow defenders kept the Glen out and the sides went in at halftime with the Glen holding a slender 1-0 lead.
Every Glenner in the stand was left rueing the misses and doubting if the lead was enough given the fact that the wind was now going to be blowing in Newtonmore’s favour.
As expected Newtonmore upped the tempo after the break but with their centreline blocked out, much of their penetration came from long balls fired up from defender Stevie Macdonald which were dealt with reasonably comfortably by a Glen defence in which full back Lewis Maclennan was outstanding.
At the other end Glenurquhart were playing neat interpassing shinty but after a series of missed chances and a goal by Heath ruled offside it was beginning to look like they would have to settle for a single goal victory. That all changed in the 69th minute when a snap shot by Glen captain Andy Corrigan came back off ‘More keeper Ritchie and Ewan Brady was quickly on hand to push it home from close range.
Newtonmore midfielder Paul MacArthur immediately got one back when he fired home from 25 yards to throw his side a lifeline but the Glen had their tails up and when Neale Reid worked himself free and smashed home a third for Glenurquhart in the 72nd minute there was no doubt that the cup was finally bound for Lochness-side rather than its more fancied Badenoch destination.
Glenurquhart finally turned up for a final and in parts up front they played nice little patches of shinty in which they created chances and they really should have scored more than they did.
As for Newtonmore despite being a man down they kept in the game and both Norman Campbell and Steven Macdonald drove themselves on relentlessly and displayed excellent hitting for distance.
As for the Glen players, they all looked as if they wanted to play for each other while it’s quite hard to pick out players.
Ewan Lloyd and Mike Brady both performed well on what could have been for both of them a very difficult afternoon. But then so did Iain Macleod and Conor Golabek - as for Ally Mackintosh - he won the Tommy Mackenzie medal for man of the match and given how hard Ally has had to work to get over a long term injury then no one deserved it more.
Anyway, the final whistle blew: everyone went crazy with delight,
then Cork accepted the cup and the silver caman from Martin Girvan, RBS North of Scotland Manager and Glen Committee member while Glen’s own Jim Barr looked on as Camanachd President. It could not have been more perfect. Then we all went back to Drum, had a party after Hazel took the cup off us for safe-keeping, then some of us were sick and then we all went home. Guess that the ducks that survived last week’s Shinty Gala day race down the Coilty into the Loch were finally, at long last, all lined up all in a row.
Enjoy the photos - the ones you think came off the Wing Centre’s phone probably did. The rest are from Sheena Lloyd, Neil Paterson and Donald Cameron.