Venue: Scotstoun Sports Campus – Glasgow
Date: May the 17th & 18th
Team left to right: Clive Morgan, John Hurley, Neil Brannigan, Keith Moran, Ronan Peyton, and Dara O’Flynn
Ireland V England
England traditionally strong in this event have never lost the title since its inception so this was going to be a difficult opening match, the order of play was 5,3,1,4,2 Neil was first on and despite giving everything he went down 3.0 to the English captain who showed great touch and control. Ronan Peyton was next up and always willingly had a tough 3 games losing out to the combative English number 3. Keith who just turned 35 this year stepped up from the seniors making his first master start and had a good domestic season was eager to bring his form into the weekend had a real tussle with Jamie Goodrich. As with all English players the pace was extremely high with allot of pressure applied, Keith found the early exchanges difficult but to his credit he slowly worked his way into the match, the deciding game was the fourth and after some terrific battling he got himself into a commanding lead looking to level the match at 2.2, however Jamie managed to claw himself back demonstrating why he is the current number 1 in both the O35’s & O40’s and took the game winning 3.1. Following Keith and another making his master’s debut was Clive Morgan who was simply bursting with enthusiasm (and out of his Irish shirt!) gave maximum effort and commitment but fell short losing 3.0 to the steady Englishman. The oldest member of the team and certainly not the wisest was last on court where I played the squash coach based out of London, the match went to 5 and despite winning a tight fourth set I was unable to press home the advantage losing 3.2.
Overall score: 5.0 England
Ireland V Scotland
Appreciating that England were favourites for the title we were now in a battle for second place, we got off to the perfect start with John Hurley coming in fresh and rearing to go won his match 3.0. John mixed up his style of power and precision with some great squash and had too much for his Scottish counterpart. Ronan had the task of getting past Owen Hadden who also plays masters Davis cup tennis for Scotland was too hot for Ronan, his racket skills and delicate drops and flicks made for a difficult match for Ronan to establish any rhythm going down 3.0. With the matches level at 1.1, Keith went on to play Simon Boughton, another squash coach this time from Edinburgh who’s playing 1 at both O40’s and O35’s and it not difficult to see why, Simon played controlled squash from the first point mixing up deft drops and some beautiful lengths that seems to die slowly into the back walls making Keith work extremely hard in every rally. He worn Keith down and took the match 3.0, at this point we needed some inspiration and up stepped Clive Morgan, never a man to shirk a challenge he played brilliant squash, mixing raw aggression and consistency to win 3.0 to level the tie at 2.2. Last on I found myself the first game down and trailing 7.2 in the second before grinding my way back to 7.7, at that stage all I could hear was Clive bellowing at me to keep going but sadly my opponent took the game and went onto win 3.0 which was disappointing given all the hard work the Munster men had done to get us into that position.
Over Score: 3.2 Scotland
Ireland V Wales
After a quick turnaround the last fixture was against the Welsh, they had beaten the Scots 3.2 the previously night and were solid down the line however their number 1 would be absent for this match. We had pride on the line as some of us were yet to register a win so the lads were challenged to win each match and as the Scots were playing the England we still had an outside chance of second place overall if results went our way. Neil was first up to get play started and he played some of his best squash in the early games but could not keep pace with the Welsh number 5.
Ronan was next up and was playing the crafty Welsh number 3, he was determined not to go away from the weekend empty handed and dug in dig to get his first win 3.1. It was hard fought levelling the fixture at 1.1, so it was John back on court looking to keep his unbeaten record and again playing some of his best squash won a competitive 3.0 putting us ahead 2.1. Since we had to change the playing format to facilitate the short turnaround I was next on and like Ronan managed to get my first win of the weekend 3.0. We needed at least another win to put us into contention for second place so Keith was next on and following a pep talk from Clive he went in full bloodied and fully committed to secure a win. This was a cracking game of squash with both players evenly matched; it went to 5 with each player unwilling to yield and constantly asking questions of each other’s abilities and commitment. It came down to who wanted it more and with a very happy Keith pulling through it gave us a comprehensive victory.
Overall Score: 4.1 Ireland
It was a great weekend of squash and an honour playing with this bunch of lads, some of the notable highlights which made it in the Saturday speeches included Clive’s Limericks broad definition let’s and strokes and of course his presidential presence, Keith’s waist coat and his win, Hurley’s 100% record and the O55’s Cork lads homage to him, Brano’s support for the Irish tops and Peyton’s confusion when ordering a coffee I’ll have a flash white so!
Hope to see you all next year.