The draw for the IBSF World Under-21 Snooker Championship was released today with four Irish players competing in Montreal, Canada later this month.
The event is the first major amateur tournament of the new season and the winner will most likely be guaranteed a place on the professional Main Tour for the 2012/13 campaign.
That may seem a long way away but it is a necessity for these players to realise the importance of this championship as it would mean bypassing the dreaded Q-School next May.
The World Under 21s, of course, is a prestigious tournament in its own right and one in which Dublin’s Ken Doherty won as a teenager in 1989.
This year Ireland is represented by Vincent Muldoon, Jason Devaney, David Cassidy and Greg Casey while Northern Ireland’s Declan Brennan is also participating.
Muldoon will be the favourite out of that quintet to go the distance when the event begins on the 13th of July having enjoyed some excellent form recently.
The Galway man surged to the final of the European Amateur Championship in June only to fall at the final hurdle 7-4 to Welshman Daniel Wells.
It was double heartache for Muldoon as the former pro was nominated by the European Billiards & Snooker Association for the final Main Tour place for the current season – as Wells had already earned his slot for topping the Welsh rankings – but was denied by World Snooker.
This is the second time in Muldoon’s short career that this has happened and it would take a strong temperament for him to not feel totally aggrieved at the situation he currently finds himself in.
The NUI Maynooth graduate will be one of the favourites in North America and has ample experience having reached the semi-finals in his last two World Under-21 Championships.
Devaney created Irish snooker history in May when he added the Republic of Ireland Senior National Championship to the Under-19 and Under-21 National Championships he triumphed in earlier in the year.
The 18-year old has Brennan for company in his group but will be confident of progressing far after his already successful 2011.
The 58 competitors from across the globe are split into two groups of 8 and six groups of 7 with the top qualifiers progressing to the straight knockout stage.
The Irish will by no means have it all their own way, however, with former Chinese professionals Li Hang and Zhang Anda flying over – the latter reached the final in 2007.
The full draw for the upcoming championship can be viewed by clicking here