Camanachd Leòdhais opened their 2017 season last Saturday in a game that underscored just how important a preseason can be.
Glengarry were flying high in friendlies in February whereas inclement weather had prevented Lewis from managing a single game. Glengarry benefitted from the extra preparation as they bested Lewis by a score of 8-1.
On another day and against another team, Saturday’s game would likely have been called off.
A deluge of rain hit Craigard pitch late in the morning that left the surface in a less than ideal condition.
With Lewis having already crossed the Minch, the game went ahead.
The conditions were the same for both sides however and Glengarry’s players deserve credit for their performance.
Manager Duncan MacIntyre had fourteen players at his disposal for the game.
With regular goalkeeper Graham Cay absent because of work commitments, MacIntyre looked to Conor MacDonald to play between the sticks. MacDonald, who has returned from a torn meniscus that prematurely ended his 2016 season, was the club’s number one when first entering the league and he repaid the manager’s faith in him with a top performance, despite the scoreline.
If MacDonald wasn’t the best Lewis player on the park, then that honour would go to Ally Lamont, who fought valiantly in what was his first game at full centre.
Glengarry were on the front foot from the throw up.
With players from both sides struggling for footing, the hosts adapted the better and had the lion’s share of possession early doors.
A combination of the muddy pitch and some smart MacDonald saves kept Glengarry at bay initially but the pressure eventually told as a swift Raymond Robertson effort opened the scoring just before the thirty minute mark.
Less than ten minutes later, Glengarry had doubled their lead from a set piece when Shaun Sloggie received a corner and fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Lewis did look dangerous going forward, creating opportunities with quick counter attacks.
Both Paul Duke and Dougie Shaw had chances to cut the scoreline in half but neither could find the target.
The downside to the quick counter attacks was that the Lewis defence wasn’t getting adequate time to rest and Glengarry struck a killer blow with the last action of the half as Robertson scored his second following another corner.
Lewis had their best spell of the game in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half as they looked to find a way back into the game.
The centre line was finally beginning to gain a modicum of control with Al Reed and Donald Lamont now supporting Ally Lamont in the midfield. Paul Duke and Kenny ‘Duffy’ Murray both had chances to pull one back but saw their shots fly wide.
Glengarry weathered the storm and a fourth goal turned the tide in their favour for good. Raymond Robertson bagged his hat-trick as he collected a defensive clearance and rifled the ball into the gaping goal.
Corners continued to be Lewis’ undoing; Glengarry’s new signing Nick Dalgety hitting the post following the cross before getting to the rebound first and tapping home.
Barely sixty seconds later Dalgety scored again, making it six for the home side.
Lewis got their reward for continuing to battle hard when Al Reed’s sweetly struck shot from fully forty yards looped over the keeper and just under the bar.
Whilst it may have been a consolation goal, it was special for Reed as it marked his first competitive goal for the club.
Glengarry would have the last laugh however with another quick double.
Scott Bremner & Robertson’s fourth of the game wrapped up the win and put a marker down that suggests Glengarry will be in the title picture this year.
Lewis will be keen to bounce back this Saturday when they travel to take on Boleskine. Live updates can be found on Twitter @lewiscamanachd