In feet smouldering conditions the handicaps final days commenced with the delayed semi final match up of Pat Smyth/Michael Butler against the young guns of Andrew Browne and Gary Grace. The young pretenders chased every ball down delivering power and pace with every shot while their much decorated, opponents used guile, angles and disguise to counter. A terrific match where a distinct clash of style was evident, and the tennis educated member filled balcony was left wondering where this one would go. In the end after a wonderfully close two sets Browne and Grace won out and were heard to quietly ponder if not wonder at the doubles skills on display from across the net. Smyth & Butler left the field of play a few pounds lighter but with heads held high and were last seen discussing late into the evening a missed shot here an opportunity there like the true competitors they are.
Both Men’s and Women’s singles finals started at 1pm with Mary O Donohoe playing Oilbhe Doyle and Paddy Dempsey going head to head with Ian Brady. In the lady’s match both players played out a cagy first set with long rallies searching for weaknesses with every shot and in a very tight 1 hr and 20 set Doyle came through having been down 5/4. In the second set the pace of the game increased despite the hot conditions (Thanks to the 50 year old water boys) with Mary attacking and Oilbhe countering with great defensive work and no little skill and winning her first Final 6/5, 6/3 and rightly celebrated on the balcony by her Mum who had herself won the handicaps in the past.
Congrats to both Mary and Oilbhe on a great two Weeks.
On court one we had the intriguing battle between Paddy Dempsey and Ian brady and in truth this was always going to be too tight to call. Between Dempsey’s confident shot making and positional play and Brady’s exceptional fitness levels and low error count we were treated to a terrific Final. Cheered on by friends and family alike both gladiators went toe to toe with on court temperatures and play reaching new highs for the Week. Where one parried the other defended and soaked to the skin and having given there all a worthy Champion in Ian brady emerged from the fray together with a vanquished if unbowed opponent from what was a great singles event. The balcony voiced & nodded its approval to both men and for delivering a fitting final.
Onwards to the doubles Finals with the Men’s teams of Browne/Grace taking on Dempsey and Kilty and the Ladies teams of Zuilmah Wilis/Fionnuala Hayes pitched against Marianne Mccaffrey & Elaine Prior. First up the laddies Final and having taken out two of the fancied teams in previous rounds Willis & Hayes went into the Final if not hot then pretty warm favourites. ‘On any Given Sunday’ anything is possible and with Mccaffrey securing the net her fleetfooted partner covered every inch of the court making life as difficult as possible for the opponents. The favourites looked early on have too much in the locker for Prior & McCaffery winning a sterling first set 6/4. How wrong could the pundits have been as McCaffery and Prior stormed back into the match to win the 2nd and 3rd sets 2 and 2 for a brilliant victory. One to be celebrated and one wonders how long the celebrations for the victors went on for.
As to the men’s final after a 20-minute rest the determined Dempsey steeled himself and went back on court with a well prepared partner & supported Michael Kilty to face Andrew Browne and Gary Grace. As the match began caterers were seen to break with tradition and to everyone’s delight served Mini magnums to the enthralled spectators (Innovation at work – thanks to Mandy). Again on the face of it this was going to be very tough one to call. Young Browne and Grace delivered a performance of poise and when required no little power, and their opponents needed to be at their best to win. Simply it was not meant to be and while never backing down and maintaining admirable commitment to each and every shot the error count from Kilty/Dempsey combined with the quality of their opponents ensured a hard fought for and deserved win for Browne & Grace.
In Summary a terrific two Weeks and huge thanks goes out to everyone who participated, and to everyone in the Club who were part of making the event happen (Alan, Tim, Mary and the bar team). Many congratulations to all our finalists and Winners and it’s great for the Club to see so many new members participating and adding energy to Sandycove. Onwards now to the much anticipated 2022 Club Championships which will take place in August.
‘If Carlsberg did Club Handicaps’.
Mandy, Paul, Aileen & John F.