Report written by Penny Webb – UK Player
After a lot of organisation and last minute changes, a Men’s and Ladies England team made it out to Cork, Ireland to play against what turned out to be Ireland’s top Men and Ladies at the wonderful grounds of Ballendinisk, hosted by the newly formed Cork Polocrosse Club.
Huge thanks must be made to Pete Watson for stepping in at the last minute to oversee the teams and for sponsoring our playing gear through his business, Equiextreme. Thanks also go to our other sponsors, Ann Hammond, Clive Kirby Farrier and Hopkins Recycling Ltd. The real heroes were truck drivers Paul Rowden, Kim Lampard, Shauna Waterer and Chris Dunlop – thanks to them the horses travelled over well and were fresh to play on the Saturday.
The Ladies team of Penny Webb, Vickie Metcalfe, Annie Waterer, Sammy Rowden, Hannah Fletcher and Kerry Bean played first and completely dominated the game to win by 11 goals. The Irish goal throwers found it near impossible to get round Kerry and Annie and with Hannah and Vickie doing a great job in Midfield, it just left Penny and Sammy to throw the goals through, a good job all round!
The Men’s team was very inexperienced at this level and their task was made harder by the Irish fielding all their star players. Mike Turner, Jonathan Swift and Kim Lampard had arguably the hardest job against the strongest section but were able to keep their goal scoring as low as they could, with Kim securing a lot of possession in midfield. The second section saw Jason Webb, Jo Hopkins and Neil Smith put some goals on the board, making all their possession count. Although the score was not in our favour, the lads enjoyed it and looked upon it as a learning curve.
Saturday night was spent eating the best polocrosse meal ever! The Irish had pulled out all the stops to give us a great weekend. The Sunday games however, did not go to plan. The Irish ladies obviously took their defeat to heart and came out with a lot more determination. Going 1-4 down in the first chukka did not help our cause and then disaster struck. Hannah and Kerry’s horses collided and both were vetted out, leaving them playing on borrowed Irish horses. This effectively ruined our chances, which were dealt another blow when Vickie Metcalfe took a bad fall (this girl does not travel well!!!) and although we drew to within 2 goals of the Irish after the seventh chukka, they held on for a well deserved win. The Men once again had a tough time, but were able to score more goals including a special baseliner from Mikey! Neil Smith settled into the No.3 position and started to work well with Joe and Jason.
It really was a fantastic trip – well worth the effort and the ‘rebirth’ of what could be an exciting competition between the nations. Talk was of Test Matches next year for preparation for the World Cup… the Irish are definitely up for it and they deserve to play against the very best that the UK can throw at them.
Best UK Lady: Kerry Bean
Best UK Ladies Horse: Pocket Rocket (Annie Waterer)
Best UK Man: Jason Webb
Best UK Men’s Horse: Risebridge Missile (Jason Webb)