Home Internationals 2006 - Manchester, England - 17th - 18th June 2006
Irish team in order of seeding:
1) Mark McInerney (captain)
2) Simon Williams
3) Ed Cunningham
4) Andrew Johnston
5) Gerard Healy
The 2006 Home Internationals saw yet another bitterly disappointing performance from a strong Irish team. Once again we failed to win the event. England retained the title.
The new team kits, organized by Andrew, were absolutely superb. Unfortunately, the team kits were the only professional aspect of the Irish performance last weekend.
We only just managed to avoid the humiliation of winning the wooden spoon, thanks to Gerard Healy’s solid victory in his game against Will Prichard of Wales, giving us the 3-2 victory.
Ed Cunningham had a very disappointing championship losing all three of his matches.
An airport fiasco meant that Simon’s missed his flight to Manchester early on Saturday morning and Simon was also carrying Ed and Andrew’s mallets so they had to play their first matches with unfamiliar borrowed mallets. So it was not the ideal start for Ireland, especially when they arrived to hear that they had to play England first. Simon lost 2-0 to Jonathon Kirby of Scotland and it was the same story the next morning when he lost in 2 straight games to Ian Burridge of Wales. His match against James Death of England was drawn at 1-1 - time was a factor in this instance.
Andrew may not have played as well as he is capable of, but his mentality never wavered throughout the weekend. His patriotism and commitment to his team was again commendable. Andy played some solid croquet to earn us a valuable point against the Welsh by beating John Evans 2-0. In both games, Andrew was trailing considerably and hit his last shot in both games to turn them around and secure the win. Andy never let his initial poor play distract him from the job at hand and he kept battling on until his game came together. Andrew’s mentality is admirable and should serve as an example to many other members of the Irish contingent.
Mark lost his match 2-1 against David Maugham of England. As is so often the case with the number 1 seed match, the winner is usually decided on a single life shot, which was the case. A 6th turn triple from David in the third game after Mark missed his lift shot secured England their first point. Mark won his other 2 matches convincingly, both 2-0.
The lawns at Bury croquet club were beautiful – mostly flat and extremely fast. My thanks to the Bury croquet club and its staff for their wonderful hospitality and to Jonathan Kirby for his managerial efforts. Congratulations to England for another Home Internationals victory, one that was seemingly effortless.
As captain, you can ask no more from your players than 100% commitment. It is in this captain’s opinion that such commitment was scarce over the weekend. Let this convincing defeat last weekend serve as a wake up call for the future.