CA of Ireland v SCA 2005

14-15 May 2005, Carrickmines

This year it was the Scottish side's turn, following the precedent set by the Irish last year, to field a visiting team of only five players instead of the usual six, allowing a home side with six available to make some substitutions between rounds.  The format invented last year, with five doubles games and 20 singles games, was re-used, providing a wider range of opponents for each player than the traditional format of best-of-three matches.

The Scots arrived on Friday on five different flights from Edinburgh and Prestwick.  Some of both sides' players met at Carrickmines in the evening to practise and get used to the old Dawson 2000 balls (a lot less lively on rushes and croquet strokes than the new model used by the SCA), but it was not till Saturday morning that the full teams assembled.

The Irish side took a 2-1 lead in the first round, winning both doubles games but losing the singles, and maintained it by winning four out of five games in the second round, and two out of four in the third round, to make the first-day score 8-4.  The closest result was +1 on time to the Irish pair of Robert Barklie and Harry Johnston in their first-round doubles against Fergus McInnes and Bill Spalding: the Scots had had a slow start, but Fergus equalised with nine hoops and a one-ball peg-out in the turn in which time was called (only failing the peel on his partner's ball at hoop 6) and the game went into extra turns before Robert scored the deciding point.  Evan Newell and Nathaniel Healy won the other first-round doubles against Chris Dent and Jamieson Walker, and they both went on to win both their singles games.  Alan Wilson made the largest contribution to the Scots' results, winning his first-round singles against Leo Dungan and having a doubles win, with Jamieson, in the third round against Harry and Jane Shorten (who was alternating with Leo as a player as well as managing the event).  The other Scottish wins were by Fergus over Harry and by Chris over Robert.  The win by Nathaniel (4) over Chris (-0.5) was the only clear upset in terms of handicaps.

A rendezvous in the Horse and Hounds in Cabinteely - made more pleasant for non-smokers by the workplace smoking ban introduced in Ireland last year - and a convivial dinner in the nearby Regal Court Chinese restaurant rounded off the day.

Saturday had been dry and largely sunny, and Sunday was more so - a good day for the barbecue which Leo and Bruno laid on in the afternoon.  The Scottish team managed something of a fightback, winning two games out of three in the first round and two out of five in the second, which left the match still open at 12-8 as the final round began.  This was the "head-to-head", with players pitched against their opposite numbers, except that no.2 on each side (Robert or Fergus) was playing no.3 on the other (Bill or Nathaniel respectively), since the two third-ranked players had already met in one of Saturday's singles games.  The Scots needed all five games to win the match, and they got two of the first three, with Alan beating Harry while Fergus inflicted Nathaniel's only defeat of the weekend; but unfortunately Bill, after a close result against Evan in the previous round, was unable to get far against Robert, and so the match was decided with two games still in play.  Leo was well ahead of Jamieson, but the game between Evan and Chris was tightly contested; Chris eventually scored the last point of the day in extra time to limit the CAI's winning margin to the same as last year.

The hospitality of the Irish players was much enjoyed, and it was a pleasure to play at a venue so well-appointed as Carrickmines.  The new clubhouse there may lack the character of the old one, but with its spacious and comfortable accommodation and well-stocked bar it beats anything we have in Scotland.  It was also convenient to have an enclosed site where the hoops could be left in position instead of having to be taken in overnight and set out again each morning.

A few pictures of the place and the players can be found below.

Fergus McInnes


(Irish names first)

Day 1, 14 May 2005:
Evan Newell & Nathaniel Healy beat Chris Dent & Jamieson Walker +7t
Robert Barklie & Harry Johnston beat Fergus McInnes & Bill Spalding +1t
Leo Dungan lost to Alan Wilson -12t
Evan Newell beat Alan Wilson +14t
Robert Barklie beat Jamieson Walker +10
Nathaniel Healy beat Chris Dent +8
Harry Johnston lost to Fergus McInnes -23
Jane Shorten beat Bill Spalding +25
Evan Newell beat Fergus McInnes +14
Robert Barklie lost to Chris Dent -16
Nathaniel Healy beat Bill Spalding +12
Harry Johnston & Jane Shorten lost to Alan Wilson & Jamieson Walker -3t

Day 2, 15 May 2005:
Evan Newell & Leo Dungan lost to Chris Dent & Bill Spalding -8
Robert Barklie & Nathaniel Healy beat Fergus McInnes & Alan Wilson +6t
Harry Johnston lost to Jamieson Walker -3t
Evan Newell beat Bill Spalding +2t
Robert Barklie beat Alan Wilson +13
Nathaniel Healy beat Jamieson Walker +4t
Harry Johnston lost to Chris Dent -21
Jane Shorten lost to Fergus McInnes -21
Evan Newell lost to Chris Dent -1t
Robert Barklie beat Bill Spalding +22
Nathaniel Healy lost to Fergus McInnes -6t
Harry Johnston lost to Alan Wilson -19
Leo Dungan beat Jamieson Walker +20

Match result: CAI 14, SCA 11



View across the lawns to the spacious new clubhouse.

Bill Spalding in play on Sunday afternoon, with opponent Evan Newell under the flags in the background.

Chris Dent addresses the final hoop.

Robert Barklie with the Appleton Trophy.