A wet and blustery day turned into a fine day of both weather and croquet. There were a number of round robin matches left in both division one and two before the finals were to take place.
In division one the finalists were already confirmed as Ed Cunningham, who went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, and Andrew Johnston. Of the remaining round robin matches Ed dispatched Evan Newell 2:0 including a QP in the second game, while Conor Broderick recorded a notable 2:1 win over Simon Williams to finish third overall. See the full report of the Final below.
Division two was a much tighter affair. Michael O’Shaughnessy has played very consistently throughout the tournament and had secured a place in the final before the final round of matches.
Michael would play either Danny Johnston or Kieran Murphy who played each other in the final round of games in division two. With much riding on the game some errors were made, but Kieran
managed to keep it together and ease past Danny and earn his place in the division two final.
The weather was now perfect croquet weather as the finals got under way. Michael O’Shaughnessy showed his experience and kept Kieran at bay before putting together the winning turn. Michael received the Herbert Corbally trophy to rapturous applause. He has also been promoted to division one for next season. Both Kieran and Danny who finished second and third respectively will enter playoff matches against division one opposition for the chance to play in the top flight next year.
The division one final went all the way to a deciding game. Andrew Johnston took the first game +10tp when Ed failed to finish a QP turn. The second and third games were pretty much one way traffic for Ed has he fought back to win both games +23qp and +26qp respectively. Ed received the Cyril Corbally cup to the screams of hundreds of fans.
The final act of the 2009 Irish Masters will be the relegation promotion playoffs to be played in the coming week.
Gerard Healy v Danny Johnston
Nathaniel Healy v Kieran Murphy
Congratulations to both winners. I look forward to next year’s competition where there may be a few alterations to the format.
The Master's Final - Blow by Blow
Irish Masters 2009 - Overall Final Division 1
Ed Cunningham vs Andy Johnston
1. Ed won the toss and chooses to play first to E boundary just N of hoop 4.
2. Andy lays a tice midway up W boundary.
3. Ed misses tice to 1 yard E of corner II.
4. Andy misses tice from near end of A-Baulk.
5. Ed shoots back at tice from corner II. Hits and goes to 3-back with Diagnol Spread Leave.
6. Andy misses lift from end of A-Baulk.
7. Ed attempts quadruple peel, bounces off 2-back with 2 peels done.
8. Andy takes first ball around but misses return roquet after 1-back.
9. Ed misses 4 yarder at 1-back.
10. Andy makes 2-back and 3-back with New Standard Leave.
11. Ed misses from W boundary to ball at hoop 4 (not quite rushable to hoop 1) ending up near corner IV.
12. Andy rolls off hoop 1 from end of A-Baulk and finishes with nice controlled standard triple peel (rover peel before 3-back).
Game 1: Andy +10tp
1. Andy chooses to play first and goes to E boundary N of hoop 4.
2. Ed plays 6" S of Corner II.
3. Andy misses this into the corner from B-Baulk, leaving nice double.
4. Ed hits in corner 2 and goes to 3-back with Diagnol Spread.
5. Andy centre-balls the lift from corner 3. Sticks in hoop 4 from 8" almost straight.
6. Ed has 1-yarder with his backward ball at the ball in hoop 4. Finishes with quadruple peel.
(1st peel after hoop 4, 2nd peel almost-jawsed before hoop 6 and rush-peeled before 1-back, penult peel rushed up after 2-back and then peeled, rover peel straight.)
Game 2: Ed +23qp
1. Ed chooses to play first and goes to E boundary just N of hoop 4.
2. Andy lays a tice almost midway up W boundary.
3. Ed hits tice and sets a crosscourt leave.
4. Andy misses long shot from corner 3.
5. Ed goes to 3-back with Diagnol Spread.
6. Andy misses long shot from corner 3, by almost nothing.
7. Ed finishes with quadruple peel (first peel after hoop 4, 2nd peel before 2-back, penult peel before 4-back, rover peel straight).
Game 3: Ed +26qp
Ed Cunningham beat Andy Johnston -10tp, +23qp, +26qp
Interesting match - no Supershot Openings or Duffer Tices. With few errors from either player, the match hinged on Ed's return to form in the shooting department (going back to his old pendulum-style grip at the very top of the mallet seemed to work well, especially with his hoop-running). Ed did well to persevere with his quadruple tactics in games 2 and 3 as a mistake could have cost him the game, like in game 1, as Andy was playing well amongst the balls. We're looking forward to another hotly-contested Irish Masters in 2010, which will contain some exciting changes to the format.