This was the 6th match for the Carter Challenge Cup between Ireland and USA, played in Florida at the National Croquet Center from 3 to6 May.
Ireland has won four of the previous encounters but this time had the odds stacked against it. USA had a strong team consisting of (with world rankings in brackets) Ben Rothman (26), Doug Grimsley (55), Danny Hunneycutt (56), Rich Lamm (44), Dave Bent (68) and Rickey Wilhoite (124) with the Irish being Andy Johnston (64), Ed Cunningham (134), Evan Newell (210), Nathaniel Healy (291) and Conor Broderick (322).
The WCF World Championship gets under way there on Saturday, so the lawns had been carefully prepared to run at between 12 and 13 and the new steel Superhoops with 3/4" wires and 11" fins underground were being given their first major appearance. Temperatures were in the mid-eighties by mid-morning and there was a stiff southerly breeze throughout. The Irish team had mostly arrived on last Friday, so Saturday was our practice day and play ran all day from Sunday to Wednesday.
By Sunday evening we were already under pressure. The hoops caused difficulty for all the Irish, as did the speed of the lawns. It was not until Tuesday, when Conor beat Dave Bent 2-1 in their singles game that Ireland won a single point and on Wednesday, with the match decided, Andy beat Danny Hunneycutt 2-1 (after narrowly failing to beat Ben Rothman) and the doubles team of Conor and Nathaniel won their match 2-1 against Rich Lamm and Dave Bent ( a typically tense doubles affair with scores of -4, +5 and +15). The final score of 18- 3 can't be argued with and many of the games were won 2-0. There was only one Irish tp.
The Americans were gracious and generous hosts (several of them having made substantial personal contributions to the costs of the event) and excellent sporting adversaries. We look forward to renewing the battle in 2011 in Ireland.
We were grateful for the assistance of Nissan Ireland towards the substantial costs of the trip.