Day 1 of the 2022 Association Croquet Championships of Ireland. In the week that saw alchemic conjuror of síocháin (peace) Daithí Trimble, son of Bangor, go to his eternal reward - ní bhfeicfimid a leithéid arís, a coterie of all-star croquet players took to Carrickmines Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club at 9.30am. Early doors and there were croissants, there was 'cha and coffee - all that was missing was the totemic presence of a Mark Stephens, a Danny Johnston, an Andy Johnston. Young Stephens is a highly esteemed banker. If it's a term loan you're after, look no further. Mark is representing Éire this weekend in the World Golf Croquet Championships i Sasana (England). Oíche Dé Céadaoin(Wednesday evening) and the colossal figure of MS was drawing comparison with Mooro (Bobby Moore) and Our Kid (Bobby Charlton) in their '66 pomp. Bhí sé ag cleachtadh i gcoinne Simon (a practice match) i gCCLTC. Early on and Simon was knocking back the G and T's like it was last orders at the wedding at Cana. He went 4-1 up with nonchalant ease. Stephens roared back into contention, consecutive jump-shot hoop runs reminiscent of a Looney power drive down the 2022 McWeeney home straight. Six-all and a Simon botúin (error) with a ten-yard hoop clearance effort going awry, Mark running the winning hoop from one yard in front. SW tied up the ball game at one set all before the denouement played out before a broken down 63 Dublin Bus on a Glenamuck gradient of some concern. The J-men of Newcastle, Wicklow will swoop into Junction 15's environs with serious championship intentions soon. All hydration and plyometrics; muscular hypertrophy and enough composure to get the job done. There exist potential usurpers. Latin scholar, Nathaniel Healy - heard conversing with the classically-minded Looney mid-afternoon. The gaffer is playing brilliantly. He went on a tremendous break early doors in his Handicap Singles knockout match versus chalkman, Russell Harris, in the last round of the day's games on lawn three. Having erroneously played his partner ball rather than his striker's ball, it was a case of mea culpa for Looney. Making hoops is what this game's about. The two malletmen will be redoubtable competitors when the championship singles starts proper.
The greats of the game adorn the winners' honours board inside the plush clubhouse, overlooking lawn 2. It is a triffic vantage point for a spectatorial jar. Interestingly, the internal club croquet championship winners' board bears only four names. It is like omitting the Bryan McFadden years from a Westlife anthology. Joe McGowan arrived after the Angelus to take in the action. His practice habits have drawn comparison to Gary Player's. He was impressed by the cultured, athletic play of Robert Miller. Simon, sipping a Killarney IPA, remarked upon the superb angled hoop-running of Tony Allwright - also on lawn 2.
In the handicap doubles, Terence and Nicola came through two tough games with a brace of W's. Claire and Sandy offered stiff resistance in the post-prandial battle. One hoop separated the protagonists in a game that had the watching pooch, Rosie, rapt.