A summary for those who don’t want to read the full report.
Moustafa Nezar bt Kieran Murphy 10-7
Ahmed Yaser bt Ben Harris 10-6
Hisham Shaker bt Robert 10-8
Mohamed Taha bt William 10-4
Amr Elibyari bt Danny Johnston 10-4
Karim Ghamri bt Jack 10-2
Dina Saad bt Danny 10 - 8
On arrival the lawns looked in good nick. A lot more grass on them than I was expecting. They are a bit hilly though and quite slow. The first round was not a good one for anyone except the Egyptians. This was to be expected though as all of their players are ranging from good to very good and they’re on their own lawns with plenty of enthusiastic support.
Kieran played Moustafa Nezar.
He won the coin toss and proceeded to win the first hoop. I then went on to win the next two but with some excellent clearing and well controlled hoop running my opponent took a 6-3 lead. I fought back and got a hoop or two but he kept the gap and after a see-saw penult-penult (hoop 17) he took the game 10-7.
Ben played Ahmed Yaser.
From the cheers I could hear from lawn 1 things did not bode well for Ben. When I asked Danny what the score he said 5-1 but finally Ben settled down and came back to 7-6. But then, unfortunately Ben’s opponent saw the threat and put away 3 hoops in a row. But as Ben says, “these are just warm up games”. We have to stay positive and play smart.
Ben is lucky enough to appear on Nile Sport from what we’ve been told. There was a big t.v camera there with a man giving commentary.
Robert played Hisham Shaker.
This was a close affair, Rob was playing well and was ahead for a few hoops but the power of the Egyptian came through and he took a 10-8 win for the host nation.
Will played Mohamed Taha.
Will’s nerves showed as he got off to a slow start. His opposition was a very good player as well making all kinds of hoops. Will just lacked a bit of power in the crucial stages. He lost 10-4.
Danny played Amr Elibyari.
This was a very close game but sadly for Danny the luck just wasn’t with him. They exchanged hoops at the beginning but the mid section of the game was won by Amr. Amr went on to win 10-4.
Jack played Karim Ghamri.
Jack was also a bit nervous and got a bit flustered when things didn’t go to plan. He just started to calm down and hit the ball how he wanted but he just ran out of time. Jack lost 10-2.
Danny played Dina Saad.
Danny looked tired from the start, he wasn’t shooting badly but he was doing things like blocking himself, five times he said himself. Dina was good at close range and stayed close to the hoops. It took Danny three hoops or so to change his game to tackle this but he got ahead after six hoops and proceeded to lead for most of the game but never by more than one hoop. Eventually fatigue won and Danny lost the last few crucial hoops. The game ended 10-8.
After a late night watching Danny’s game (the last of day one) Ben and I were up for a nine start.
Kieran played James Goodbun.
Not looking to make excuses I had to play this game with a make shift grip because I hurt my wrist the day before and could not use my usual grip. James won the toss and got the first hoop. It went to 3-3 but when I missed a clearance it gave him a good chance to run a hoop and line up right in front of the next. With a great jump shot on hoop 9 and good control James got to 7-3. I fought back a bit but not feeling confident with my wrist or new grip James finished the game off with a nice boundary hoop shot. 10-5 end result.
Meanwhile Ben was playing Malcolm Fletcher. I only caught the last few hoops but Ben said he felt he played well. Both players cleared well and there was some great hoop running. I came in at hoop 13. Malcolm was leading 8-6 but Ben won 13 after a hard fight. It went down to hoop 18 but when Malcolm got jawsed and the only option Ben had was a 20 metre jump shot over the referee it didn’t look hopeful. After preparing and leaning over the ball for about two minutes Ben jumped. He got agonisingly close but it was not to be. Malcolm won 10-8.
We left then but when we returned I found out the three young lads had all had close games but lost.
I’m very tired now and too lazy to go into the details of the rest.
Ben lost to Sandy Younan and doesn’t want to talk about it. At one stage during this round things looked dire. I saw Ben’s score at 4-0, Rob and mine were 5-1. But I came back against Mahmoud Hassan and won the game 10-8. Finally, an Irish win.
Unfortunately Rob lost as well to Ahmed Osama.
Summary for block stage: Ireland lost 17- won 1
At least we’re all used to the lawns etc...We shall now turn it on during knockout stages, you wait and see.
Keep your fingers crossed at all times please.
Ben’s brewing up a plan as I type.
I’ll send the knockout results in due course.