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September 3rd and 4th will indeed go down in Croquet History, and not just in Ireland but around the world their will be mutterings of this huge victory. It was a very proud moment for me and the rest of the team to be the ones that finally put an end to Great Britainís 19 year unbeaten run. An outstanding battling performance from the whole team, who never gave up at any stage.
At the top end Ronan and Ed put in a fine display and although I know they will be a little disappointed only to come away with 1 from 3 matches they really pushed the top Brits and forced them to bring out their best. This alongside them leading their respective doubles matches to valuable victories was a great performance overall. Edís final turn in game 2 was fantastic especially as he carried a nervous captain through his first match. Ronan and Alan McInerenyís tremendous fight back from 1 game down against Fulford and Patmore, was evidence of the desire the team had to win this and it set the team up for the rest of the match.
This match was always going to be about the middle and bottom order and so it was. Simon stepped to the mark and claimed a maximum 3 points for Ireland and again proved his value to the team. The captain did his bit when things were looking rough late on in the first by winning a tough 3 game match to secure the overnight 5-3 lead.
At 5 and 6 Patsy and Alan really did pull out all the stops and can really be proud of themselves. Although Patsy hit the winning shot which sparked the great celebrations, something Iíve never seen in croquet before and was very glad I did. Itís Alan McInerney who I have down as my man of the match not only was he undefeated for the weekend but he pulled out some vital turns at key moments. Late in the day on Saturday it was looking like an over night score of 5-4 to Great Britain. But in a short space of time it took a decisive turn Ireland won a key 5th point. Alan at this stage looked in trouble, a game down and looking like losing the 2nd to Chris Patmore, he pulled the game back superbly and levelled his match 1-1. This meant Ireland had a 2 point overnight lead, a great psychological boost (this match would conclude if necessary the next day).
On Sunday, I looked around at one stage and got very worried, all white jerseys on the lawns and not looking good for the Irish. And again when things looked grim and possibly in years gone by Alan might have crumbled, but not this time he dragged the game kicking and screaming out of the fire and beat Ian Burridge of Wales 2-1. This gave Ireland a 7-6 lead and a little piece of breathing space. Their was no need for the final game to finish as Patsy held firm to clinch the vital 8th point, much to Alanís relief.
A memorable victory and one we will be sure not to forget for some time, or at least until next year when we do it all over again!!