Tyrone weathers the competition for the Freebooters tournament

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AGAINST a backdrop of summer sartorial style, highly competitive polo and heavy intermittent rain, the Big Red Machine from Northern Ireland’s County Tyrone weathered the All Ireland Polo Club’s higher goal tournament to win the historic c1887 Freebooters Cup.

Dale Kimmel (l-r), Justin Tomlin, Jenny Lee, Eric Crowley and Ahmed Alanasari from the Carrickmines Polocrosse Club in Dublin paid a visit to the Freebooters tournament at the All Ireland Polo Club

One of Ireland’s top players, April Kent (centre field) was instrumental in securing the win for the historic Freebooters Cup at the All Ireland Polo Club in Dublin’s Phoenix Park

Past All Ireland Polo Club presidents Johnny Kavanagh (left) and Eamonn Laverty, catching up at the Freebooters tournament

The Glenpatrick team from Northern Ireland faced torrential rain, but the tournament continued to earn the team second place in the Freebooters final

The sudden death qualifiers in overtime included a spectacular goal by team patron Eamonn Laverty for a 6-4.5 win against LHK, the team going on to best Northern Ireland’s Glenpatrick in the final by 6-4. Off the field, visitors at the club Pavilion played their part, well fuelled following a luxurious lunch by Wilde Dining: some 60 guests and friends of the 150-year-old club took to the field between matches to tread in divots caused by fast-moving polo ponies on the business end of the rain-soaked 9 Acres in Phoenix Park, Dublin, reducing by some degree the chance of a buried ball on the field.

Tyrone’s Eamonn Laverty (left), April Kent, Brad Rainford-Blackett and John Corbett, the 2023 winners of the Freebooters Cup

Up and coming young polo player Max Stone and his award-winning beauty vlogger Michelle Regazolli-Stone, enjoying Wilde Dining and polo at the All Ireland Polo Club

After the rain comes treading in the divots, and guests at the Wilde Dining event eagerly treaded in divots made by polo pony hooves, running across the pitch. An important exercise, every treaded in sod lessens the chance of a ball in play getting caught in a hole

“Thank you to all the competitors,” said Eamonn Laverty when he accepted the coveted trophy along with teammates April Kent, Brad Rainford-Blackett and John Corbett. “They gave us very good games and all through the games we didn’t know whether we were going to win or lose.”

Irish thoroughbreds almost to a one, polo ponies at the higher goal level travel at speeds up to 30km per hour, much to the delight of spectators attending the two-day tournament.

As weak sunshine struggled over Phoenix Park, Dublin Ireland, a trio of US Navy Ospreys flew over the polo ground on the way to the American football match between Notre Dame and the US Navy. The Fighting Irish routed the Navy 42-3 (Image credit, Brendan Mullahey)

Knockdromagh’s Toby Small (l-r), Jennifer Doyle, Sinead Doyle and Tom Small, the winners of the 0-goal Ladies Cup at the Freebooters tournament

Travel expert and renowned historian Eoghan Corry tops off his sartorial look with a vintage hat to mark 150 years of Irish polo

“The last match was so close,” added Eamonn Laverty. “It could have gone either way.”

The final tournament of the 150th anniversary will be played for the Pakistan Cup, Saturday and Sunday 9-10 September at the All Ireland Polo Club.


Tags: Arts & Culture, Fashion

Image credits: Kim Mullahey

Kim M

Kim Mullahey holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies

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