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Glen batter Balla to lift title

By Cameron Middleton
Glen batter Balla to lift title
Captain Andrew MacVicar lifts the cup. Photo: Paul Paterson

ColGlen rounded off an incredible season by deservedly lifting the South Division One title, following a flawless 10-0 thrashing of Ballachulish at Dunoon Stadium.

It was a perfect ten for ColGlen last Saturday, with the men in yellow in black putting in their best performance of the season by blowing away Ballachulish in front of a vocal home support.

The task at hand was simple; all the Glen needed to do was to avoid defeat and the title would be theirs. A vital 3-1 victory over league rivals Bute back in September was the turning point of the season, as the Glendaruel outfit were now destined for South One glory. The question of promotion and a potential National Division play-off was swept aside for the day, as defeating Ballachulish was the primary focus for this bumper fixture.

Many of those in attendance travelled to Dunoon from Glendaruel, Colintraive and beyond, following a forced venue change earlier that week due to the predicted torrential forecast.

The relentless rain drenched the stadium surface, with many questioning whether this title deciding clash would go ahead. Nonetheless, referee Des McNulty deemed the pitch playable, with the ColGlen contingent sheltering in the main stand as the soaked players took to the field – so much for summer shinty.

However, the conditions didn’t deter either side, as a physical encounter transpired between ColGlen and Balla in what was the fourth time the two have met this season. The visitors, in fact, were one of only two teams who have taken points off the Glen this year, following a goalless draw back in April. Yet ColGlen bounced back with a 1-0 Balliemore Cup victory, before a 6-1 thrashing a week later against Balla in the Single Team Cup, a competition they’d of course go on to win.

It looked like the Glen were starting where they left off, as they dominated the opening 20 minutes. The back four of Cally McNaughton, Hamish Harrison, Tom Irbhinn and Andrew Tyre had no issue navigating through the lengthy stadium grass, as their hitting was long and consistent, putting their opponents on the back foot deep in their own territory. The soaring passing allowed the Glen’s front four to get involved with neat interplay, particularly through the young Auryn Kerr who was causing real problems for the visiting defence.

After 24 minutes of dominance, the home side would eventually take the lead through captain Andrew MacVicar. Following a corner, Scott MacVicar won the ball from a crowded tussle, poking the ball through to his brother Andrew who fired the ball high in to the net from around the penalty spot, giving his side a deserved lead.

Five minutes later, the Glen would double their advantage through a moment of brilliance from Auryn Kerr. The South U14 representative weaved in and out of two towering Balla defenders, before he created space for himself and soared a cracking effort in to the top corner from 30 yards out.

The floodgates would then open for ColGlen, who were playing some excellent shinty, dictated by the midfield three of John McPhail and MacVicar brothers Scott and Jamie.

Christopher Blair would make it three with a fine strike in to the top corner, before Scott MacVicar got in on the action following a well worked free-hit.

The champagne was on ice for the time being as both sides went in for the interval, as it was smiles all round in the ColGlen camp after a flawless opening 45.

Somehow, the home side would step things up a notch after the restart, scoring twice in quick succession.

Firstly, substitute Keir Irbhinn smartly flicked the ball beyond the Balla keeper from close range to make it 5-0, before he set up James Hamilton with an excellent pass, as Hamilton struck home with his second effort, as his first strike was heroically blocked.

Appeasing the jubilant home crowd, ColGlen searched for more by bringing star player McNaughton away from his defensive duties and placed him at full-forward. He wasted no time, and scored the Glen’s seventh by prodding the ball in to an empty net following a penalty box stramash.

Kerr then bagged his second of the contest with another cracking effort from distance, as the young forward was putting in a man of the match performance to the delight of the Glen faithful.

With 15 minutes to go, Sandy Paterson made it 9-0 with a fine finish from an incredibly tight angle, as a depleted Ballachulish outfit had no answers for a rampant ColGlen.

As full-time creeped, the Glen were awarded a golden opportunity to make it double digits after referee McNulty pointed to the spot following a clear infringement in the box. Step up fan favourite John McPhail, who had the glorious opportunity to round off an incredible performance from his side. However, his penalty soared miles over the bar, with the match ball being found in Sandbank later that evening as rumour has it.

Nonetheless, Andrew MacVicar did find his side’s tenth at the death, with a fantastic lobbed effort from 25 yards out.

The delighted players celebrated as McNulty blew for full-time, with ColGlen being crowned South Division One champions only seven years on from their South Two success in 2015.

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