Rain Doesn’t Stop Play:
Manager’s Report on the 2012 Dublin Croquet Championships
(Fri-1st to Mon-4th-June)
The Lawns have never looked better but without the speed of high summer. So with games likely to finish apace, the Manager (Evan Newell) proudly armed with a computer and his bespoke colour draw sheets, looked forward to a relaxing Tournament with time to spare for completion of all the events. The 15 to 20 Handicap had a new name, “The Phantom Trophy” (thus named as no trophy currently exists). There was an addition to the schedule namely “The Cider Challenge” (a bottle of cider to be bought by the Winner for all those that the proclaimed Winner beat!) designed to be a Plate Event (Golf Croquet) diversion for those of only briefest concentration!
And then it rained: it rained all of Sunday morning and relaxation was replaced by tortured scheduling. The Manager stayed up late into the night trying to resolve the unresolvable and almost succeeded. All that was required was for any one of about five matches to have a helpful result to eliminate one or two “BLOCKERS” (nightmare Competitors that seem to be still in every event).
Every result went the wrong way (for the Manager) with the “wrong” winners often only emerging with minutes to go.
The Manager himself started the unfortunate series of results by failing to eliminate Danny Johnston from the Championship on a likely winning turn in the dark on Sunday evening after an aberration at penultimate allowed Danny to avoid an unlikely lift shot in the gathering gloom and then finish +6.
The following day Danny then continued with a fine win +26 TP against Ed Cunningham to reach the final against Simon Williams (who Triple Peeled his way all the way to through the “Process” section of the Draw). Meanwhile the Manager required Danny to play his handicap Singles and his handicap Doubles at the same time as Monday was fast approaching. But Danny just kept winning!
Worst of all was the Boxwell Handicap singles match first thing Monday morning between Danny and Cathal Cooney. After an hour with both of Danny’s balls on hoop one, Cathal approached the third last hoop with 5 bisques standing. At last an imminent result for the Manager with an hour gained on time and Danny out of something: oh joy of joys!! .. But no, no and thrice no. Cathal soon arrived at peg and peg but with no bisques left for that vital peg out. And “where had they all gone?” (almost certainly the title of some gloomy novelette). I only know the history of one of them: an air-
shot. Yes that is what I said, an air-shot. An air-shot saved Danny’s skin, wasted an extra vital hour while he went around (very slowly in my agonised view) and at 11 o’clock on Finals Day, Danny was still in everything. The Manager punished Cathal a few hours later with a suitable handicap reduction that should allow further losses without the need for air-shots.
The next player the Manager desperately needed eliminated was Fiachra Carroll. But nor was this to be as Fiachra cruised through to no less than three finals that all needed to be played at the same time. Fiachra won the Duff Mathews (advanced play level for handicaps 3.5 to 8) against the admirably consistent Nottingham competitor Peter Moore, somehow lost the handicap Doubles with Ben Harris to another Bandit like pairing of Danny Johnston + Osgur Long, and (after the Prize giving) reached the Boxwell Handicap Finals (still to be resolved). These results also required a maximum punishment and the Manager duly obliged Fiachra with a once and for all amazing handicap reduction from 8 to 3. This places Fiachra straight into Championship mode for the August Championships!
The other competitors more or less behaved themselves. Stephen Kenny of the Kells Brigade made anwelcome return to competitive play (escorted by the king of Kells, Stephen Strong) and reached the final of the Mirabeau Trophy (handicaps 9 to 14) to be narrowly pipped by the suspiciously better Tim Furlong. Meanwhile Osgur Long promisingly won the “Phantom” Trophy (against the consistent John Harrington) and was instantly rewarded with a handicap reduction to 12!
And so on to the Championship final between Danny Johnston and Simon Williams played in glorious (at last) sunshine. The match started at 4.30 immediately after the Doubles final and we were treated to an exhibition from Simon of how the game should be played: The result +26 TP. But this in no way detracted from Danny’s overall excellent start to the years croquet and perhaps the Manager was (for once) a little lenient in not adjusting Danny’s handicap downwards.
Matters did not conclude with the presentation of prizes an hour later by our esteemed Captain, Joe McGowan, as the Boxwell handicap semi -finals and final had still to be completed, but sufficient had been achieved despite the worst efforts of the rain. Thanks were due to many but especially the dedicated behind the scenes catering led by Ed Cunningham (while he was playing!) assisted by Geraldine O’Rourke, Ann Woulfe-Flanigan and even at one stage the volunteered Barbecue skills of the two Stephens from Kells.
Perhaps the only casualties of the weather were the two Plate events. The Manager would suggest that “The Cider Challenge” was always going to be a scheduling problem for the reason that it is impossible to double bank Association Croquet with Golf Croquet. But then again .. if the sun had shone and there was plenty of time ?? ..