With wrapping up my course and moving blogs, I have missed out on a few of the key issues over the last couple of weeks so here is a brief round-up of everything important that has occurred recently.
The inaugural Qualifying School came and went with twelve success stories coming out of a 124-strong initial line-up.
The format ensured that each entrant would have three chances to earn their place on the Main Tour for the 2011/12 campaign and former professional David Gilbert certainly qualified the hard way.
After defeats in the final rounds of Q-School Event One and Two, Gilbert, who qualified for the World Championship as recently as 2007, ousted Allan Taylor 4-1 to guarantee his immediate return to the circuit.
Of the triumphant dozen, nine have had experience on the Main Tour before which showed the strength in-depth on display throughout the three events at The Academy in Sheffield.
Ireland’s David Morris was one of those after a nail-biting climax to his final round encounter with Michael Wild in Event Two.
Morris, who had been in the top 60 in the ranking list at the beginning of last season before a disastrous run of form, looked to be staring defeat in the face but Wild missed the final pink for a 4-3 victory and it was Kilkenny’s Morris who instead clinched the deciding frame win.
The 12 eventual winners of Q School 2011 were Andrew Norman, Adam Wicheard, David Grace, Robin Hull, Tian Pengfei, Simon Bedford, David Morris, Kurt Maflin, David Gilbert, Li Yan, Stuart Carrington and Adam Duffy – the last three booking their place on the Main Tour for the first time in their careers.
There was also the excellent news of the confirmation of a three-year deal for the new Australian Open in Victoria – the first time a ranking event will be held Down Under.
Although it has been on the cards for the last 12 months and comes as no great surprise, this is a fantastic development and it reflects the positive intentions of the new regime to create a global ambition for the sport.
It will be interesting to see what level of support there is in Australia, especially given the fact that home hero and former world champion Neil Robertson will be one of the favourites for the maiden title in July.
It also bolsters an interesting Asian/Oceanic section of the new calendar that seems to be developing which includes the World Cup in Thailand and the Wuxi Classic in China, although both of the latter are invitational events that carry no ranking points.
Last week also saw the completion of the Republic of Ireland Senior National Championship where 18 year-old Jason Devaney created a little bit of history after taking the title.
Mayo’s Devaney had already claimed the Under 19 and Under 21 National Championships and completed the hat-trick after an 8-6 victory over David Hogan – who also lost in the final in 2009.
23 year-old Hogan, however, can take solace in the fact that he’ll be back playing on the professional circuit in the upcoming season after finishing ahead of Vincent Muldoon in the overall Irish Rankings.
It will be Hogan’s second stint as a professional having been on the Main Tour during the 2009/2010 campaign.
That year there was only 6 ranking events, though, and it was almost impossible for first time players to regain their place so Hogan will feel more confident this time around as he enjoys more leeway for success.
Categories: Irish Snooker