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3/19/2012 2012 USA/IRELAND Teams, Purse Event (15-Mar -- 18-Mar)
World Champ Wins It! -- Bob Alman


Mark McInerney played golf croquet like a world 
champion on Sunday--with confidence and finesse, even 
when the going looked tough.  "He had a good run," 
Mark would say of an opponent in the zone for a 
particular game, but McInerney's steadiness carried 
the day and brought him the biggest prize, in both 
cash and glory.

Sunday started with four semifinalists: two Irish 
playing against two Americans.  In the first one, Mark 
defeated Florida croquet pro David Maloof in three 
games after an in-form Maloof (playing his second Golf 
Croquet tournament--he was finalist in 2011 against 
Stephen Mulliner) beat Mark in the first game; but 
Mark took the second game decisively and breezed 
through the third with a 7-4 victory.  

The other semi-final was a closer affair, between 
Patsy Fitzgerald of Ireland and Danny Huneycutt, top 
American player.  Huneycutt was obviously delighted to 
emerge the winner and have a chance to play against 
McInerney.  He played well, but Mark's confidence and 
steadiness won the day--and the biggest cut of the 

I asked Danny later which was more important to him, 
the money or the glory.  After some thought, he was 
sure, he said, it was the glory.  I think the same 
would be true of all the players in the event--even 
the ones who aren't faring very well in tough economic 

Each of the three Irishmen are personally affected by 
the depths of the economic depression in their 
country.   Mark's business--as a dog behaviorist and 
owner/manager of a bridle shop--is obviously 
depressed  by the temper of the times; Ed Cunningham, 
a project manager for a construction company, has said 
that their few contracts are for overseas work; and 
even Patsy Fitzgerald, who lives on a 100-acre estate 
in a classic Georgian mansion overlooking his own 
croquet court, has seen a reduction in his backlog of 
commissions for paintings.  "I used to be about 10 
months behind," he told me.  "Now it's more like two 

He could open a bed-and-breakfast, I proposed.  Patsy 
replied, "We like to close the gates and see no one 
for days on end."   He raises cattle on half his 
acreage, with the other 50 acres being re- 
forested.  "If worse comes to worse," I 
suggested, "you can release the manager of your cattle 
operation and do more of the work yourself."   He only 
smiled slightly, which made me think that he's a very, 
very modest fellow, indeed.

There is a bright side to his situation, and a dark 
side as well if you can allow for muddled 
metaphors: "The light in my studio isn't very good for 
painting," Patsy told me.  "There can be eleven or 
twelve days in a row when everything is misty and 
gray.   It's why there are so few painters living in 
Ireland, I think."   Which means more work for Patsy, 
I suggested.  Again, the modest smile.

The Irish croquet players are genuinely nice guys.  
They loved their visit to Palm Beach county, and my 
impression is that they all thought it was worth it--
including Mark McInerney, who can now prepare for 
playing in the Association Croquet World Championship 
in Adelaide in about six weeks.  At about number 15 in 
the world, he doesn't have the top ranking in that 
form of the game, and he'd like to win both titles, 
though he knows that's a long shot.  

The next Golf Croquet World Championship is scheduled 
for April of 2013.  Which means that Mark will 
doubtless be invited to the 2013 International Polo 
Palm Beach Golf Croquet Invitational next February.  
It's a "tournament of champions," after all, and Mark 
is the biggest champion of them all in Golf Croquet.




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