Day 7 and some thought-rich croquet on offer from the brightest stars in the croquet firmament. Every shot and ball placement is carefully considered and weighted to meet prior cognitive perception. Visualisation seems to work. Of course, Rhonda Byrne's Ask-Believe-Receive recycled concept made her a few quid off the back of The Secret. "If you will it, it is no dream" as Theodor Herzel put it in his State of Israel address over 100 years earlier.
With an hour still to play in their USCA Salver clash, Max Miller was 18-2 ahead versus Tony Allwright but the oilman then made a sumptuous long-distance roquet to get in. The tanned reverse b'ball cap-wearing Miller closed out the game despite the late Allwright rally. Max was last seen pony-tailed and in board shorts heading for Huntingdon Beach, Orange County for the US Surf Open.
Some high quality "bantz" on na suíomhanna meáin sóisialta (Whatsapp) as a polite lunch query from lawman Nathaniel Healy is answered by his doubles partner, Patsy Fitz'. Upon wondering if there will be more than ceapairí ar fáil (sandwiches available) at lunchtime on day 7, Patsy promises his doubles partner a lunchtime Big Mac with all the toppings if Nathaniel gets to 4 back with his ball in their morning doubles versus the Looney Osborne Burke tandem. Nathaniel demands a Patrick Guilbaud meal if he pulls off the feat. Might I suggest a Pot Noodle.
Ar an drochuair (unfortunately), whatever about that hypothetical déjeuner, those very same malletmen (who had discussed the extrinsic motivational reward of a square meal to drive goal-based behaviour) were forced to withdraw from the doubles due to circumstances outwith their control.
The McGrath Bennett pairing thus faced a re-match versus the hoop-happy duo of Looney Osborne Burke who had beaten them originally on the other side of the 2 life draw. I don't know about you but I've never seen a bookie cycle a bike - they usually drive top class motors. They were predicting a repeat result here.
Some loose shots from the HP sóiséarach partner (junior) culminated in a missed 20-yard roquet which stuck in Rover thus facilitating the veteran hoopsters to embark on a 4 baller. Again, the oppo advocated recording of same i dtuairisc an lae (in the daily report herein). The dual Carrickminder pair then went to 4 back before a dire hoop approach on 2 from the same culprit let them in again off their second ball. The former stiúirthóir crícigh Carraig Mhaighinn (Carrickmines Croquet Director) produced dire pish throughout. The veteran hoopsters came through penult' and Rover to take the ball game.
Plenty of learnings for the younger defeated hoopmen to take away with them. They then stayed on lawn 1 for a plate singles game versus each other with atonement via a 12 hoop maximum break providing balm to the doubles wound of DMcG early doors. Stumbling on hoop 4 off red let Bennett in on the lawn for a tilt at some break play.
In the championship singles, Simon Williams went one up vs Danny Johnston on 2 but the Wicklow man soon tied it up to set up the decider.
A convincing lawn 3 win for Richard Whelan in the Newell Candlestick saw the financial alchemist keep his 100 % record going.
Fiachra Carroll and dynamic hoopster Myles McWeeney were due to take to lawn 1 for a primary colours clash agin the telepathic Johnston pair after lunch on day 7. Neutrals favoured the former pair whose earners are in the arts, literary and music spheres. A mixture of business and sciences for their oppo, the pragmatism of profits earned with the scientific naturalism of a labcoat living. McWeeney has a bona fide championship pedigree, his Green Cup escapades akin to a Premier League class technician dropping down one league to mentor first-year pro ballers in the art of cultured play. Carroll himself made a rapid progression through the ranks. Like a scratch golfer hitting draws and fades for fun as the weather and course demand it.
Greig and Chang stood in the wings awaiting the winners.
Late doors on day six and Andy Johnston defeats Patsy Fitzgerald by two games to one in their championship clash (26tp-0; 15-26 tpo; 29tp-9). All they seem to need is half a chance at this level. As ever, hit in and to re-visit ball breaker Gene Hackman - it's a case of: "Make your play." Sylvia Briggs turned to her playing partner Thornton mid-match and might have said: "Soyez réalistes - demandez l'impossible." The battle cry of the 1968 student revolt in Paris - here it came as an exhortation to grasp the nettle via the running of an angled hoop in their alternate shot doubles match. For she also knew, "Sous les pavés, la plage" (beneath the paving stones, (the) beach.) Their progression through the draw has come about by some precise shot-making. During a sunbaked Wednesday lunchtime chat on the balcony, Padraig lamented his particular foible: "I suffer from a condition known as the 'Thorntons' - a proclivity to stick in the hoop when trying to run it." He went on to diagnose a similar affliction for a fellow Carrickminder who shall remain nameless. The malady in question causes a propensity to completely miss the target ball in a cut-rush attempt thus turn over. Ar aon chor, (anyway) Thorntons were nowhere to be seen yesterday as PT and Sylvia dispatched the Geraldine/Myles axis in their one-sided contest.
Today's matches bring special significance as a precious win might propel one to a cluiche ceannais amárach (final tomorrow).
"Foxrock does not produce many footballers and Tallaght does not produce many sailors." The words of "Greener", Brian Kerr, who gaffered the Inchicore-men of St. Pat's to League of Ireland success prior to underage international success and of course, stints as Irish and Faroese team manager at senior level. Late doors today and a certain waffler samhlaíoch (imaginative waffler) from Carraig an tSionnaigh (Foxrock) will take to Fettercairn, An Tamhlacht (Tallaght - childhood home of the Honey Monster Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane). The Dubarry deck shoes are packed and excitement levels turned up to 11 as a date with the area's local Sacred Heart FC ballers is confirmed.
Looking after los pequeños detalles (the little details): "It is what real pros do", asserts Mike Babcock. Something chalkman Russell Harris knows all too well. His approach play to hoops and pioneer placement has been ar fheabhas (excellent) all week. Values and principles drive actions. The outcome will then take care of itself. Stephen Covey made a few bob out of that. For some, it's guff. For others transformative words to live by. Up there with the story of a Nazarean dreamer whose vision lay beyond fitting timber kitchens in pre-Ikea Judaea.
An interesting takeaway this week is that the top bananas in the championship tend to run Michael Jordan-style "swoosh" hoops ie the ball runs clean through without hitting the wires either side. Indeed, hoopman Danny Johnston is sporting Phil Knight branded white Nikes this week, in keeping with the swoosh theme. Dé Luain (Tuesday), and DJ and doubles partner and namesake Andy wore matching Canterbury whites. A moment captured on instagram/tiktok by an ard oifeagach feidhmiúcháin ( higher executive officer) of the CAI (Croquet Association of Ireland).
"You can't beat a good right hander" - the words of deceased Cockney hard man Lenny McLean. Green Cup finalist Nigel Werner favours the wearing of a signet ring on both hands. If ever the subject of an attempted mugging, any bob-hungry crim' might well receive a gold-plated knuckle sandwich from the Wernster.
Spare a thought for absent friends, some true test match animals watching from webcams from afar in locations such as Ulan Bator and Newtownshandrum. Les frères McInerney. Retiring from the game despite not being in aois pinsin (of pensionable age). Mark coming back for a year and winning the World Golf Croquet Championships. Something Bjorn Borg couldn't do in another code.
Nicola Kelly and Mark McCann's efforts to popularise the game of croquet on this island have led Mark to garner a papal knighthood from Papa Francesco. Nicola settled for the croquet mallet used by Michaelangelo to win the Florence Golf Croquet Championships in 1551. It had been postponed originally due to a bus strike but proceeded over the June bank holiday after the Medicis laid on a slew of Vespas to ferry visiting players from a nearby Hilton.
I had the artist formerly known as Cardinal Bergoglio firmly down as a baller, indeed - he is said to be a fan of Independiente in his homeland of Argentina. However, as the Jesuits themselves might say - it's not either-or, it's both and.
Due to circumstances outwith their control, John McAuley and Russell Harris have also been forced to withdraw from the tournament, with fans already devvo by the tournament éalú (exit) of Patsy Fitz'. They leave us with memories of some sparkling croquet this week.
Tomorrow is finals day when the cream of Irish croquet will play out fine drama. Come and enjoy all ye faithful.