Squeaky bum time at Carrickmines C & LTC as finals day dawned. The Clerk of the Weather saw to it that the atmospheric conditions matched the buoyant mood of all present. King Sol shed his genial beams o'er the scene.
Much debate this week has centred on the positioning of corner balls to effect a 3-ball cannon. The matter was settled by Nathaniel Healy, perhaps the finest exponent of a placed ball since Ollie Campbell.
In the Green Cup semi finals on lawn 1, browned bomber Gerard Osborne Burke met tennis tyro Dave McGrath. The latter created the conditions for several 4-ball breaks but lacked accuracy at clinical junctures. He later called a fault agin himself that was visible only to himself and the Great Redeemer.
A ruling was required with Simon Williams adjudicating a fault had taken place. A business-like Osborne Burke finished out to seal a passage through to the cluiche ceannais (final).
Muscular Adonis Danny Johnston was seen warming up for his Championship final performing lawn-side press ups with impeccable form. His opponent Andy sauntered gaily onto the lawn, clad in the national team uniform that is only afforded to the game's luminaries. Danny annexed the opening game, +5tp, in the best of 3. Andy responded, +26tp in the 2nd game. Masterful play from genuine titans of the game.
In the decisive third, Danny stole a march making a tremendous peel on his partner ball through 4-back from a 45 degree angle. He held his nerve to close out the game, a deserved champion and an all-round gent.
In the second Green Cup semi final, the quasi-Teutonic efficiency of former club president Alan Looney was pitched against the cerebral croquet of Myles McWeeney. The latter, said to be the Bean Baron's favourite scribe, played a game full of powerful strokes, leavened with subtlety. At one point, Looney ran 3 with his clip on 4 back. He reproached himself but recovered soon after. Looney showed his mettle in clinching the deciding hoops with his customary mixture of technical prowess and ice-cool temperament.
The Green Cup final thus featured Looney and Osborne Burke, doubles partners and friends of some standing. They both played a blinder early doors, getting their first balls to 4- back in a New York minute. Osborne Burke would go on to have the lámh in uachtair (upper hand), going round to 4- back but lodging in the jaws. Looney dislodged his opponent and set up a 6 foot rush with his partner ball to the corresponding hoop. He skimmed it, in trying to give it alorra welly and couldn't capitalise. Osborne Burke resumed and proceeded to the peg before finishing out soon after. A great game played in the best of spirits, 26-11 the margin.
The Newell Candlestick final on lawn 3 saw the dashing and debonair Duncan Styles emerge victorious over serial finalist Richard Whelan by 9 hoops to 6. Whelan was immense in partnering your correspondent to last year's handicap doubles final. This time out, he was unfortunate to meet a super competitive Styles.
The day's action was watched by a slew of interested spectators, including the ever-fragrant Sylvia Briggs.
Boating enthusiast Tim Furlong faced a daunting challenge against an on-form Max Miller in the USCA Salver. Miller drained hoop after hoop with the conviction of an artificially oranged POTUS, dispensing digital tripe unto the masses. Miller won out 15-11 there.
The Founder's Cup final saw the match-up of Nathaniel Healy and Max Miller with M & M fresh from his Salver victory. Miller got his red ball to 3-back but had taken use of his bisques in an overly-liberal manner. Healy pounced and went round purposefully to clinch the game 26-13. A worthy winner.
Earlier today, in a championship doubles block game, Nathaniel Healy and Sandy Greig trumped the Simon Williams Dave McGrath duo. Williams went to 4-back early doors, Greig soon followed. With McGrath on 3, Healy headed homeward. He peeled his partner's ball through the final 3 hoops, executing a magnificent jump shot hoop-run on Rover, that vaulted his partner ball (just south of the hoop) to avoid the unwanted roquet. A touch of greatness from the pet lover, a pooched-up horseman.
In the Steel Cup on 4, future lawman Christopher Martin saw off a gutsy challenge from Anne-Marie McGowan. Martin was cockahoop having taken the win, a much-merited trophy after a hugely impressive week's play.
All in all, a great week's croquet. A superb finals day afternoon tea and the prize-giving wrapped up proceedings in the beautiful sunshine. Onwards til next August, get practicing!