Martin McCrudden was the first Irishman to be knocked out of the 2011 European Snooker Championship as he succumbed to a surprise defeat in the last 32 in Sofia.
The 31 year-old had lost only one match and just seven frames in the group stages and was the 9th seed going into the knockout phase.
However, all that hard work amounted to nothing when the three-time Irish National champion lost to Scotland’s Scott Donaldson 4-1.
17 year-old Donaldson performed well, making a break of 67 in the 5th frame for a deserved victory and his reward is a meeting with recent professional Patrick Einsle of Germany.
8th seed Einsle and the top two ranked players after the round robin, Martin O’Donnell and Kevin van Hove, were all made to work hard for their progression with a trio of deciding frame nail-biters ensuring their eventual advance to the next round.
There was good news on the Irish front as Vincent Muldoon and Robert Murphy triumphed in contrasting fashions to book a date with each other in the last 16.
Fourth seed Muldoon continued his demolition of his opponents with yet another 4-0 victory – his victim this time being Israeli Shay Arama.
The Galway native has now fired in a staggering 18 breaks above 50 in the event so far, including three centuries and is only one less than third seed and fellow former pro Alex Borg – who also enjoyed a comfortable whitewash win today.
Murphy, on the other hand, will have suffered emotionally from a marathon match that finally ended with him edging a close encounter with Maurice le Duc 4-2.
The all-Ireland clash will be intriguing with Muldoon surely starting as favourite having finished three places ahead of his compatriot in the Irish rankings last month.
It is unfortunate, though, that they have to meet at such an early stage and it means that, after such a promising start to the championship, there will only be one player from Ireland competing at the quarter-final stage.
As a result, the odds on an Irishman claiming the final ticket onto the Main Tour for the upcoming 2011/12 campaign have shrunk somewhat.
Even so, whoever emerges successful from the duo will believe that they have the capabilities to go and win what is a very competitive amateur event.
Elsewhere, there were wins for England’s Adam Duffy – who has already qualified for the professional circuit next season having come through Q-School – as well as 1997 World Championship quarter-finalist Lee Walker.