Ireland hosted the Association Croquet Home Internationals at Carrickmines Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club on June 11-12th 2022. Teams from Scotland, Wales and England visited to complete a full field fixture for the first time since 2019. Due to travel restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 fixture was not played and Ireland could not travel for the 2021 match in the UK.
A sunny but windy south Dublin greeted the players on Day 1, where Ireland were drawn against holders England in the first Test. Several matches were hard fought across the day, notably that between Patsy Fitzgerald and Nigel Polhill: Patsy fought back from game down to level for Ireland before the ensuing 3rd match eventually went the way of the English. Newcomer Aston Wade got the first point on the board for England after a clinical display vs Nathaniel Healy, and this was followed shortly by the defeat of Ireland captain and event manager Danny Johnston at the hands of Dave Maugham after 3 high quality games. With the result decided, debutant Sandy Greig’s match with Andy Myers was left poised at 1 game all, and Ireland went down a disappointing 4-0. Meanwhile, Scotland and Wales played out a very close match, with impressive wins for Alastair Burn-Murdoch and Campbell Morrison being matched on the Welsh side by Angharred Walters and Chris Williams. The deciding match between the evergreen Martin Murray and Rich Waterman on lawn 4 was paused tantalisingly at 1-game apiece to allow for the second Tests to commence with the result hanging in the balance.
Round 2 commenced late on Saturday, with the manager starting to fret about completing the event across the 2 days. Several players heeding the recent chaos at Dublin Airport needed to leave earlier than usual on Sunday, so the pressure was on to get a result from the weekend's play! After an excellent lunch and tea provided by the volunteers of Carrickmines, Ireland vs Scotland began with a win for the returning Stephen Wright who played himself into form against a below-par Simon Williams, winning in two games with a TP in the second. Danny Johnston shook off defeat to take game 1 vs Alastair Burn-Murdoch with his 100th career TP, before starting a second which was pegged down at 9.15pm. But this was nothing compared to the soldiers of Lawn 4 who, fortified by a welcome curry supper, battled on until the light failed. Nathaniel Healy scored Ireland’s first point with a 2-0 win over Campbell Morrison and Sandy Greig took a decisive lead against Martin Murray before all was pegged down. England vs Wales was left delicately poised overnight, with Angharred Walters continuing to impress with another 2-0 sweep vs Dominic Nunns.
Day 2 started early on managers' instructions, and Round 3 was started before completing Round 2. Thankfully the weather remained clement, and the games progressed at a pace. Ireland vs Wales began with a rapid win for Wales's top performer Angharrad Walters, followed swiftly by Danny Johnston’s defeat at the hands of Ian Burridge after some costly errors. Chris Williams soon sealed the Test, defeating Patsy Fitzgerald 2-0 and giving Wales a 3-1 win. Ireland’s lone point was scored by Sandy Greig who impressed debuting at position 4 in the team. He calmly defeated Rich Waterman in 2 games to spare some Irish blushes. England vs Scotland rapidly began to become the defining Test of the weekend. Martin Murray began his morning by defeating Rich Waterman in the third game of their Round 1 match, eschewing a risky TP finish for a highly professional double peg-out, and to generate an interesting position. At this point in the day England, Wales and Scotland each had a Test win, and any result was possible with time running out and flights to catch. Fortified by another incredible afternoon tea laid on by Carrickmines, the players set to complete as many games as possible. Aston Wade completed his Round 2 match vs Paul Pristavec to level the England vs Wales match after Ian Burridge had beaten English captain Dave Maugham in 3. This left the match as a draw, with Nigel Polhill unable to complete his match with Chris Williams due to time constraints. With a Scotland win over Ireland still possible, the result of their Round 3 match with England became crucial. With the Test poised at 2-1, Nigel Polhil became the hero of the day, hitting in on the time turn to defeat Andrew Symons +1 on time and give England an unassailable lead. Andrew had played some fantastic croquet across the weekend, including in the previous 15 mins where he had forced the match to time! With Nigel’s win, the trophy was hastily presented to winning English captain David Maugham before several players beat a hasty march to the airport after a great weekend’s croquet.
For Ireland, a win was salvaged by their standout player Sandy Greig, completing a win in his pegged-down game vs Martin Murray but it was not enough to spare them the Wooden Spoon, falling behind Scotland on Matches Won. It was a very disappointing result on home soil, despite some excellent croquet being played at times.
Great thanks must go to Carrickmines Croquet and Lawn Tennis club for the provision of excellent facilities, as well as great catering and hospitality throughout. The lawns were playing at a particularly high standard and are a credit to the work that has been put into them in recent years. We look forward to welcoming the Home Internationals again in 2026 and hope to return to winning ways!