The McWeeney match, between the CAI and the CA, has not been played for since 2012 and seemed doomed for this year also, until a conversation with Richard Stevens of Hamptworth during last August's championships lead to an offer from his club and the appointment of Brian Fisk as manager of the event for the CA. So, very late in the season, the Irish team headed to Hamptworth in the New Forest for a weekend of mixed weather, highly competitive croquet and generous entertainment and ultimately emerged victorious with the score at 14 - 12.
The lawns were excellent and the hoops tight, so the initial nervousness of both teams was evident. Saturday was a cold and occasionally wet day, so there was little in the way of flowing croquet. The CA established an early lead but CAI won 5 of the 6 singles games in the early afternoon, with Alison Girdlestone (the daughter of Cliff Jones who has year been cut from18 to 5) succumbing to the plamas of Frank Martin. In the next round, however, she beat Nathaniel and so the day ended at 8 -7 in CAI's favour. Many of the games had gone to Time, because the lateness of the year meant shorter games to avoid running out of daylight.
Sunday was a lovely day and the croquet improved also, CAI winning two of the morning doubles with John Francis noteably playing a perfect two ball break through six hoops. This lead proved impregnable and so the Trophy, for the first time since 2010, returns to Ireland.
The joint players of the weekend were Alison and Daniel Bennett, who each lost only one game. As Daniel won all his singles games he has been awarded the Maugham Quaitch as the player of the event.
Hamptworth were splendid hosts - they prepared excellent lawns, had members out at the crack of dawn setting hoops and brushing dew and made us most welcome. We owe a special debt to the club and to Richard Stevens for getting the fixture off the ground again (and also to Richard for arranging for the local fish and chip van to park in his driveway on Friday night) and for providing accommodation for the visitors.
Results are below:
CA of I team
Nathaniel Healy (0)
Frank Martin (5)
Gerard Osborne Burke (5)
Alan Looney (5.5)
Daniel Bennett (7)
John Francis Martin (8)
Richard Dickson (0)
Alison Girdlestone (5)
John Bee (6)
Frances Colman (7)
Brian Shorney (7)
Richard Stevens (7)
Day 1 Results.
Nathaniel Healy & John Francis Martin lost to Alison Girdlestone & Richard Stevens +11T
Gerard Osborne Burke & Daniel Bennett beat John Bee & Frances Colman +8T
Frank Martin & Alan Looney lost to Richard Dickson & Brian Shorney +18T
Nathaniel Healy beat John Bee +19
Gerard Osborne Burke beat Richard Dickson +1
Frank Martin beat Alison Girdlestone +9T
Alan Looney lost to Richard Stevens +17
Daniel Bennett beat Brian Shorney +1T
John Francis Martin beat Frances Colman +12T
Nathaniel Healy lost to Alison Girdlestone +9
Gerard Osborne Burke beat John Bee +10T
Frank Martin lost to Richard Dickson +4T
Alan Looney lost to Brian Shorney +17
Daniel Bennett beat Frances Colman +12T
John Francis Martin lost to Richard Stevens +21
leaving the match finely balanced 8-7 in favour of the CA of Ireland.
Day 2 Results:
Nathaniel Healy & John Francis Martin beat John Bee & Frances Colman +1T
Gerard Osborne Burke & Daniel Bennett lost to Richard Dickson & Brian Shorney +17T
Frank Martin & Alan Looney lost to Alison Girdlestone & Richard Stevens +1T
The last round of singles were completed either side of lunch.
Nathaniel Healy beat Richard Dickson +14T
Gerard Osborne Burke lost to Alison Girdlestone +22 (Alison won a CA Silver Merit Award)
Frank Martin lost to John Bee +1T
Alan Looney beat Frances Colman +1T
Daniel Bennett beat Richard Stevens +5T
John Francis Martin beat Brian Shorney +6T
making the final score 14-12 to Ireland.