Ireland’s Vincent Muldoon is in the final of the European Snooker Championship in Bulgaria after a tense 6-4 victory over number one seed Martin O’Donnell.
The 20 year-old from Galway will meet Daniel Wells in the final after the Welshman withheld a spirited comeback from countryman Lee Walker to also prevail 6-4.
Muldoon raced into a 5-2 lead and looked to be assuring himself a comfortable victory but two nervy frames allowed his opponent in to make things close.
The NUI Maynooth graduate let chances slip in both the eighth and, in particular, the ninth frames where he was on a break of 40 only to carelessly run out of position with the balls scattered and at his mercy.
To O’Donnell’s credit the Englishman battled hard but found it difficult to stamp his authority in the tenth frame.
Muldoon was visibly edgy as his pace around the table quickened – even though he is already notoriously speedy – while his shot selection and safety suffered.
However, with one final chance he potted the final red and cleared to the blue for a memorable triumph – punching the table in delight.
Wells looked like he too was going to have an easy ride of it and at 5-1 ahead things appeared plain sailing.
Yet, 1997 World Championship quarter-finalist Walker battled back to within a frame only to eventually miss out on the potential decider.
The champion tomorrow will be nominated for a place on the professional main tour for the 2011/12 season, which amazingly commences next week.
Wells, though, has already guaranteed his place on the circuit having topped the Welsh rankings at the end of last season.
I am not sure whether the final place out of 100 on the professional tour will go to the runner-up if Wells was to emerge victorious tomorrow but I certainly hope so because it would be just reward for Muldoon’s achievements of making it to this stage.
That said, the former Irish Champion will have no doubts in his mind that he has the ability to win the tournament outright and therefore earn his place back among the elite next season following a two-year absence.
Update: According to the European Billiards & Snooker Association, who stage the European Championship, “Vinnie Muldoon will be nominated by EBSA for the Main Tour place as Daniel Wells has already won his place.”