CHAMPIONSHIP OF IRELAND, CARRICKMINES, 2-9 AUGUST 2008
Coffee, Croissants, Water polo (Croquet) and a referee called Rocket.
Arriving at Carrickmines Tennis & Croquet Club on the first day of the prestigious Championship of Ireland, we were greeted firstly by Rocket, the Tournament Referee, substituting for Simon Williams. Rocket is Simon’s dog who observed play continuously during the week, shaking his head at failed triple peels and sharing the croissants enjoyed with coffee by all players before start of play each morning.
Saturday saw play start with the Handicap Singles (Knock-Out) event with a very flexible consolation plate event. The first round of the Knock-out resulted in some interesting results with Ed Cunningham and Nathaniel Healy both winning their opening games of low handicaps and both with triple peels. The day continued with more Knock-out games, handicap plate games. Rocket appeared satisfied with the proceedings.
Sunday – Firstly a hearty welcome from Rocket, then coffee and croissants and eventually play started with continuation of the Handicap Singles followed by various other events’ first round games including The Championship of Ireland played as a best of three game knock-out. Two triple peels from Patsy Fitzgerald against Nathaniel Healy saw him through to the next round. One triple peel and two wins from three games from Gerard Healy against a battling Russell Harris put Gerard through. Evan Newell and Andrew Johnston also progressed to the next round. Evan victorious with two games to one against Ed Cunningham and Andrew Johnston beat the manager (Cliff Jones) in two straight games. Michael O’Shaughnessy battling hard against a determined Conor Broderick saw him through also. A very good win of two games to one against William Gee put Benjamin Reeves-Smyth through to join the rest in the next round.
On Monday & Tuesday play continued in all events with the Handicap Doubles getting well under way as did the Championship Doubles which was played to a Draw & Process format.
Wednesday – The rain came. Only one court was available for play at the start of the day and was the abandoned after 45 minutes. Much Guinness was consumed while many games of chess were played. Rocket was reported completing 6 lengths backstroke on court 3 and an abandoned lawn mower on court 2 completed the picture. All four courts were completely covered in water before midday.
Two courts became just playable after tea – In the Championship Singles Evan Newell beat Gerard Healy two games to one and Benjamin Reeves-Smyth was victorious in the first of three games against Simon Williams before Simon (after stern words from Rocket) won the other two games with triple peels. Chris Patmore also progressed by beating Michael O’Shaughnessy in two straight games, both with triple peels. Some games in other events were also played.
An excellent BBQ was enjoyed by all in the evening with thanks to master chef Ed Cunningham.
More rain overnight meant no play until after lunch on Thursday and then only on three lawns. The Championship Singles saw Andrew Johnston beat Patsy Fitzgerald in two straight games. Plate games, both Championship and Handicap were fitted in where possible and the manager was hoping that the Championship Doubles would be finished on Friday with Simon and Patsy winning both the Draw & Process.
Friday and, after the rain on the previous two days, a great deal of re-scheduling by the manager got games under way. One lawn was still unplayable.
The Semi-Finals of the Championship Singles was completed with Simon Williams beating Andrew Johnston in two games to one and Chris Patmore victorious over Evan Newell in two straight games. All five games were completed with triple peels. The Championship Doubles results compounded the manager’s court & time shortage problem when Conor Broderick & Andrew Johnston beat Simon Williams & Patsy Fitzgerald in one half of the competition and Simon & Patsy beat Ed Cunningham & Evan Newell in the other – Simon now having to play in three finals on Saturday.
Saturday – Finals Day and all four courts playable.
The Handicap Singles Final resulted in a very close game between Nathaniel Healy and Kieran Murphy. Both, having played consistently throughout the week fought to the end with Nathaniel the victor by 2 points.
The Handicap Doubles Final between Richard Assaf (Capt) partnering Simon Williams and Yvonne Hyland (Capt) partnering Andrew Johnston was taking place on court 3. Yvonne, having played well all week, could not quite get her partner to help her to victory. Richard and Simon won by 11.
Division 2, 3 and 4 Championships were played as single block formats.
Division 2 was won by Danny Johnston who played outstandingly throughout the week – look out for this young man in the future! Another up and coming young player was Ben Harris who won Division 3. David McGrath won all the games in his block to run away with Division 4.
The Championship Doubles Final – This was, to the manager’s relief, a quick game with Simon Williams & Patsy Fitzgerald beating Andrew Johnston & Conor Broderick by 24 points.
The Championship Singles Final between that man again, Simon Williams and Chris Patmore. Simon won the first game +15 but Chris came back in the second game with a perfect +26 triple peel. Chris’s efforts came to an end in the third game when Simon concluded the win +24 triple peel.
Simon Williams won the Singles Championship of Ireland and Rocket was very happy indeed.
The Advanced Plate was won by a now consistent Nathaniel Healy beating Ed Cunningham.
The Handicap Singles Plate was won by Richard Assaf against Robert Miller.
All players and guests enjoyed a magnificent Tournament Dinner on Saturday evening when the prizes were presented. Caroline Gel (President – Carrickmines Croquet & Lawn Tennis Club) made a special trip to be present and Vice President Peter McKeever presented the trophies.
Our thanks go to Jane O’Neill who, as tournament secretary, had the enormous task of co-ordinating the entries – to Padraig Thornton, Club Captain – to the catering staff for wonderful lunches and teas – to Simon Williams for preparing the lawns each morning before play and to Leo Dungan for acting as Manager’s assistant.
In conclusion – a wonderful tournament with a wealth of young croquet talent for the future – and of course the Man of the Tournament, Simon Williams
My thanks to all the players for making the tournament a most memorable occasion played in the very best of spirit (or should that be Guinness)