The Annual clash between the CAI and CA juniors was revived this year, having faltered last year due to a nasty bout of exams.
The teams were picked, and the Irish went into the fixture with a fresh optimism and determination having made strides in the interim year.
Debutantes were present in both team, throwing an unknown quantity into the equation.
So when the two teams took to the lawns, the Irish knew that it was all to play for this year.
This confidence immediately manifested itself in quality croquet, Ireland winning three out of three of the morning games of association, an incredibly tight game of doubles steered home for Ireland by Kieran Murphy's tactical nouse helping the cause. These tense doubles games would become a feature of the weekend.
The momentum was continued into the evening, where the CA did well to claw 2 games from the rampant Irish. In one of the most tense games of the draw, Jack Clingan just got the best of his debutante counterpart Tim Race, who looked to have the game won before running into his partner ball after rover and failing to peg out.
With the score sitting at a healthy 7-2 to Ireland, the teams retired to Newcastle for speed croquet and a barbeque, generously laid on by Brian Harris. Whilst we all enjoyed the evening, it was in the back of the mind that this tie was not over yet and that some mental strength would be required to see the match out the next day.
The next day, the match was won in the second round when Ben and Danny combined once again to best their opposition. This was as close as they come, and it took a nerveless hoop 13 in the third game from Ben (the Irish MVP) to seal the day.
The match finished at 12-6, the CA regaining some honour in the 7-0, 7-4 defeat of the Irish top seeds in the final round.
I was very proud of the Irish performance, but credit to the CA who, but for some very close games, could certainly have won the event for the third time.
Irish junior croquet is maturing fast, and with some even younger blood fresh on the heels of our team, the future looks bright.
Thanks to Simon for officiating and managing, Carrickmines for stepping in to help out at very short notice, and to the English team for giving us a great match.
L to R: Kieran, Ben, Danny and Jack.