Last Friday night Co. Wicklow Tennis Club, in Bray was the ideal setting for the thrilling final of the Blue and Gold where Sandycove eventually emerged victorious.

This has been a very enjoyable competition over the past number of weeks among local tennis clubs with the emphasis on friendly competitive tennis, food and entertainment. On the night a Championship Tiebreak was required after Sandycove and Shankill had won two games each in the four mixed doubles pairings. So the last doubles playing were required to locate to center court and play out a dramatic end in front of a crowd of frenzied tennis fans. It fell to our Margaret Cowan and Declan Hynes to deliver victory (10-5) in thrilling style. This Championship tiebreak truly captured the spirit of the Blue and Gold with Margaret and Declan recognizing sufficient emphasis had been given to the social /friendly side (a nicely balanced ‘two all’ with everyone still smiling) and so shifted gear and won decisively. Special mention for Super Sub, Jacqui Lyons, who stood in for the brilliant Liz Murphy. Pairing with Tim Eaton, Jacqui helped maintain their winning record. Tim played sublimely thru the competition despite injured wrist and knee (my only contribution to the campaign was to bandage his winning wrist like ‘Mickey’ in the film Rocky). Second pairing was ice cool, Gerry Ryan (et PR gloves), and super fit, Frank McCooey who consistently delivered succinct wins and still left the opposition smiling. Beth O’Hare subbed in for our wonderful Corinne Giacometti (who was attending a wedding in France). Despite Beth’s enthusiasm, skill and speed she could not compensate for the immobility of her auld fellow. Overall a tremendous experience and a journey made possible through the enthusiastic contributions of willing subs throughout the campaign including the very modest; Rory O’Hagan, and near equally modest John F Burke, the foodie; Paul Kilduff, the ever ready; Pat Leamy, our absolutely fantastic Lady Captain; Jenny Cullen, and last but not least our own special Simon Hugh Jones.

Natalie Counahan kindly clarified the origin of the name Blue and Gold: a little time ago Natalie and some friends set up a Friday Friendly League with the intention of having fun friendly mixed doubles tennis, among local clubs (so not a lot of travelling), and where different standard tennis players would gather together and get to know one another. As Natalie says ‘it was frowned upon if you did not socialise afterwards’ ( a tradition we have absolutely no problem in abiding by) . Natalie and her friend from a local club came up with the name as they had been to school together in the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Roscrea. Once there pupils were immediately assigned a house colour Blue or Gold.

I recommend Sandycove enter two teams into this completion next year, a Blue and a Gold, and give more members the opportunity to participate and enjoy competitive fun tennis and maybe swoop a few new recipes like Gerry’s delicious halloumi salad with garlic & chili oil dip with salsa: cherry tomatoes, red onion, coriander, chili flakes… Find out how to put this all together by signing up for the Blue and Gold next year.

Bernard O’Hare