2006 Croquet Championships of Ireland
4th - 13th August at Carrickmines
A very strong entry of 19, with an average handicap of –0.7, and including the complete Irish team and the World top-ranked player, Robert Fulford of England, made the Championship Singles the toughest for some years: the lower divisions were warmly, but not so widely contested. The new format allowed players to play evenings only (doubles), all week (handicap singles and plate, or if they wished, for a few days only in their own division. Not enough people took the second option, and were later seen mourning their shortage of games, while lawns were available!
The Tournament Committee was aided in the social events and daily breakfasts by Evan Newell, Anne Woulfe Flanagan, Edwina McInerney, Ann Thornton, Ed Cunningham, and Harry Johnston. Harry also volunteered his lawn, but an occasion to use it did not occur (see above). Various good things were provided by Gilbey’s Wines, Bewleys, and Thomas’s of Foxrock.
The lawns were somewhat rough in places, due to drought combined with some undisciplined tennis use, but overall the pace was easy, and the hoops generally firm. About one game in every three in the championship finished with a triple Peel, and Robert Fulford entertained us with one sextuple and a quintuple, but the sextuple was ruled out as a routine winning manoeuvre – to the relief of many!
Gerard Healy, soon to return to Ireland full-time, scored a notable win over Ronan McInerney, Evan Newell took a game from his doubles partner Ed Cunningham, and Simon Williams lost an excellent three-Triple match to Mark McInerney, who hit the final ‘win-or-die’ shot. Mark went on to meet Robert Fulford in a repeat of the 2004 final. The match was curtailed to three games - because the doubles playoff had still to be played - but there was adequate interaction, as this proved a more ‘traditional final’, with several slips by both players, notably at the Rover hoop. Robert was set fair to win the deciding game with a sextuple Peel, but failed a half-jump at the Rover, allowing Mark to finish in two turns with a less showy but more effective triple Peel!
Mark and an out-of-form Ronan won the Doubles Championship, coming through the second life to beat the winners of the main draw, Evan Newell and Ed Cunningham, twice in the playoff.
Conor Broderick overcame the rigors of his night-shift work to win the Green Cup (Championship division 2), being beaten by Phyllis Butts from Arizona in the block, but returning the compliment in the playoff. Locals Gerard Osborne Burke and Jane O’Neill dominated their respective divisions and are worthy champions.
Newcastle Croquet Club members excelled in the handicap events, and were visited with the wrath of the handicapper – but too late for their dismayed opponents! Andrew Johnston distinguished himself by pegging out an opponent, but failing to spot the opportunity to peg out his own ball too, in both the singles and doubles finals! He paid the price in the doubles (-1 on time) but got away with it in the singles. Junior doubles partners, especially Ciaran Murphy, Danny Johnston, and Ciara Byrne, all developed their game during the week.
Results of finals:
Singles Championship: Mark McInerney beat Robert Fulford (Eng.) –11, +2, +4TP
Doubles Championship: Mark and Ronan McInerney beat Ed Cunningham & Evan Newell +18
Green Cup: (final) Conor Broderick (DUCC) defeated Phyllis Butts (USA) +24
USCA Salver: (outright winner) Gerard Osborne Burke (C’mines)
Newell Candlestick: (outright winner) Jane O’Neill (C’mines)
Stonebrook Cups: Nathaniel Healy & Ciaron Murphy (Newcastle) beat Danny Johnston & Andrew Johnston (Newcastle) +1 on time
Founder’s Cup: Andrew Johnston beat Nathaniel Healy +9
Steel Cup: Robert Miller (Newcastle) beat Jane O’Neill (C’mines) +7
Report & results provided by Simon Williams