A thrilling finish to the 2021 Longines FEI Nations Cup Final at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain, saw defending champions Ireland produce an excellent performance to score a runner-up finish against eight of the world’s best teams.
Michael Blake’s quartet of Denis Lynch, Eoin McMahon, Michael Duffy and Darragh Kenny finished the competition on just one time fault, with victory going to The Netherlands as the only team to complete on a zero score, while Belgium finished third on four faults.
Galway’s Michael Duffy, who enjoyed an excellent Europeans, jumped with Zilton SL Z and were the discard score with one fence down and the smallest of touches on the tape at the water.
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny was one of three riders who shared a €100,000 bonus the having jumped clear in Friday’s qualifying round and today’s final.
Irish team manager Michael Blake was delighted with his teams performance.
“I am very pleased with the result today. We used two experienced riders and two younger riders. Denis got us off to a great start. His horse was very fresh and took a bit of riding but Denis did a great job. Eoin McMahon was second in for us and he has been a revelation this year. I thought he had a super round. he was a fraction over the time allowed trying to be clear. It was a big track and Eoin was fantastic at the Europeans and this was his first time jumping in the finals in Barcelona.
“Michael Duffy was very unfortunate with the fault at the water, I saw the tape afterwards and it was the tiniest of touches – the size of a pebble. Darragh was superb just as he was in the first round on Friday. All-in-all against the best teams in the world we were just two tenths of a second off potentially retaining our title so I am really really proud of the lads. A special mention also for [Mayo's] Michael G Duffy who was key in helping us qualify for the final on Friday. We are a five-man team and everyone played their part. I want to thank all our owners, the riders families and grooms and Horse Sport Ireland for their support.”