Amid all the rugby and football Sandycove men secured another 2 wins the weekend before the Bank Holiday and with one more round of matches to play this weekend there is still plenty to play for from both a play-off and class retention perspective. See below match reports from week 4. We had a number of subs out so again a big thank you to everyone who represented our club over last weekend.

1st team vs Greystones 1 (away): Sandycove lost 5-0
The first team have done the club proud on their return to Class 1 but unfortunately were missing a number of regulars on the trip to Greystones. The bankers of Ivan Brady and Cormac Jennings were otherwise engaged, Ivan getting married and Cormac recovering from a serious shoulder injury. Captain Louis Hemeryk was reluctant to let them off but after a lot of soul searching it was considered that the reasons this time were just about acceptable!

It was rumoured that Greystones were also missing a number of players but unfortunately they managed to pull in a few ex ATP players to fill the gaps! Rob Neiland has been extremely competitive in his matches this campaign and this continued against Greystones taking the first set to a tie break but succumbed in straight sets. Oisin O’Hanlon came up against an ex-tour player who just happened to be on holiday at home in Greystones! Catalin Jordan was also subbing in and had a close but ultimately unsuccessful singles. Dave Cooney & Robbie Kernan have pushed all their opponents in the section but Dave’s injury earlier in the week proved decisive and understandably could not reach the heights of previous weeks. Super subs Jocelyn O’Callaghan & Sam Hanley ably stepped up from the second team and performed well in a tight two setter.

It’s been great to have the 1st team back in Class 1 and if everything aligns a win in Sutton next weekend might well be sufficient to maintain the status for next year.

2nd team vs Sutton 3 (away): Sandycove lost 2-3
Out of the team for the Saturday match was our star thus far, Mark Cunningham, with Colin Grant still not ready for action. No need to panic as stability was provided to the team with the assignment of the assassin subs of Ken Browne, and Andy Ward for a second week in a row.

The captain needs to put his hand up on this one as pre-match preparation was not to the same standard as LaROGchelle’s high levels. Clay Courts for the singles matches, did not see that one coming!

As a result the singles players of JOC, Harry Wall, Mark Fourie were caught off guard and struggled to get a foot hold in the matches with all three going against us. Credit to JOC for acclimatising quickly after a slow start and coming close in nabbing the second set.

With both subs now comfortable in the team, Andy again partnered up with Brian O’Gorman for a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win. Kudos to Brian for yet another victory, but also on his tactful negotiating skills in juggling marathons and a 25th wedding anniversary celebration to commit to get to the start line. Ken partnered up with Sam Hanley whose solid serve game secured a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

3rd team vs Lansdowne 3 (home): Sandycove won 4-1
Sandycove 3 had an excellent home victory over Lansdowne 3 to position this team very well going into the last round of matches. This team has really benefitted from a consistent showing from all players. Keith O’Byrne was off early after a comfortable victory in 2 sets. Next was Gill and Son, after a tight first set went their way in a tie break they were able to dominate the second set and gain another 2 set victory. Paul Curran who remains the only undefeated member of the team looked a little shaky at the start of the first before finding his rhythm to win 8 of the last 9 games of the match, to keep his record firmly intact and secure the win for Sandycove. As Curran left the court Craig and Kilduff were a set up and at the business end of the second set. As victory for the home pairing looked increasingly likely the Lansdowne lads suddenly upped their game and started to swing freely, saving a match point at 4-5. This is where Craig and Kilduff had to call on their vast experience and steady the ship to close out a hard fought 6-2 7-5 victory.

That left a Titanic battle on court 3 as last minute sub Cian O’Higgins was embroiled in a ferocious contest of big hitting tennis. A late surge as Cian trailed by a break was not enough to stave off the onslaught from his Lansdowne opponent, finishing out the day with an excellent 4-1 victory for the home team. The result leaves Sandycove in second place in their group, 1 point behind Stackallen with one match to go – all to play for!

4th team vs Fitzwilliam 4 (home): Sandycove lost 5-0
Tough day at the office for the 4ths against a Fitzwilliam team who have dropped just 1 point so far. JP Begley had a good battle winning the first set tiebreak, before his opponent turned it on to win the next two sets. Andrew Browne and Paul Fitzgerald both came up against very steady opponents and were both beaten in straight sets.

Dave Hanley & Iain Walker had two very close sets at second doubles but went down 6-4, 6-2. We came closest to winning a point at first doubles with a great effort from the reunited Tom & Cian O’Higgins. The lads lost the first set 6-4, then won the second set in style 6-0. The deciding set went to a tiebreak but the crafty Fitzwilliam pairing won out in the end.

5th team vs Malahide 8 (away): Sandycove lost 2-3
The fifth team suffered a tight 3-2 loss away to Malahide 8 on a sunny afternoon. To accommodate the Leinster match there were split start times, with 2nd singles and both doubles starting at 2pm and singles 1 and 3 (the Wardlaws) at 4pm. At number 1 doubles Greg McDowell and subbing up Simon Lloyd won 6-4, 6-3 while at 2nd doubles super subs Pat Leamy and Paul Sinnott lost in a tight affair, 6-4, 7-6. At 2nd singles Alan Warren, another sub on the day, lost in a nail biting and long 2-setter, 7-6, 6-4. Then to the late starters, Alex Wardlaw lost in a close match 7-5, 6-2 while dad Colin had a super victory, winning 6-3, 6-1. This leaves the 5th team tied second with a big win required at home on Saturday week against table toppers, LCC 2 to make the play-offs. A big thank you to Alan, Simon, Paul and Pat for committing to this North Dublin roadtrip.

6th team vs Blackrock 3 (home): Sandycove won 3-2
After a week of logistics to accommodate the Leinster match everything looked set for the weekend. However, on Friday afternoon Blackrock conceded all 3 singles matches due to lack of player availability. This saw Cian O’Higgins, Roy and Zach Bailey with no matches to play and meant Sandycove had secured the victory before both doubles matches took place on a rescheduled Sunday morning. At 1st doubles Conor O’Neill played with Alan Warren (subbing in for his second match this weekend) came up short against a strong Blackrock pairing while at second doubles Jim O’Hanlon and Fred O’Neill, guesting in for the match, also lost to a strong team. While it was good to secure the win it was definitely not in the manner anticipated before that call came through on Friday afternoon. Next up Clontarf away!

Looking forward to a big finish to the group stages this weekend.

Paul and Greg