Vincent Muldoon came through two deciding frame thrillers to claim back-to-back titles at the fourth ranking event in the Irish Senior Championship in Carlow.
The Galway man launched himself into contention at the top of the Irish standings with victory in the third ranking tournament before Christmas and has narrowed the gap on Rodney Goggins even further with a second success of the season.
21 year-old Muldoon battled past TJ Dowling, a member of the Celbridge team that claimed the Leinster Club Championship last week, in a high quality final after previously fighting back from 3-1 behind to oust Brendan O’Donoghue 4-3 in the last four.
In the other semi-final encounter, Dowling beat Rodney Goggins 4-2 to claim that “the Tiger is back” but the latter remains in pole position for a professional Main Tour nomination at the top of the Irish rankings after a fourth event where he has reached the semis or better.
A run to the quarter-finals ensured a good weekend for Muldoon’s fellow Maynooth cueist Johnny Williams, who is back again for SHQ with an excellent review on an exciting event at the Ivy Rooms.
“Well it was an amazing weekend overall. For myself, I was not happy with my tournament even though it’s the first quarter-final I’ve been to this season. I played well in my first match, winning 3-0 with a 70 and 60 break. My next match against Cathal Dunne was a very tense encounter. I was one frame ahead, 55 up in the next and buzzing when he cleared up with a 60 break and I started to panic. He went 2-1 up and I got lucky in the next to go 2-2 but in the final frame I played good match snooker to get over the line.
“I had to wait five hours for my next match against Paul McGrane which was frustrating. McGrane’s a very solid player who knocked out fourth seed John Sutton 3-1 with a 110 on the way. I played well enough against him and didn’t miss much to come out a 3-1 winner. Sunday morning and it was quarter-final time. ‘The Sniper’ versus ‘The Tiger’ TJ Dowling and I thought it would be an amazing match but we both played some of our worst snooker of the weekend without getting a 30 break during the whole contest. I played really poorly and that’s not taking anything away from my opponent but I know I’m capable of lots more.
“A young player I am impressed with, though, is Josh Boileau. At only 16 he’s doing well in the junior events and had the highest break in the tournament of 131. He lost through lack of experience in his next match with Joe Delaney but he’s definitely one to watch.
“With TJ in the semis, the business end of the tournament was just about to begin and he started to play well again in beating a below par Rodney Goggins 4-2. Rodney said to me that ‘sometimes you just have these tournaments and you have to struggle on – not everything goes the way you want’.
“Vinnie beat Brendan O’Donoghue in a great semi-final. At 3-1 down Brendan wasn’t missing a ball but Muldoon rattled off an amazing three frames on the trot to win 4-3 in a game he never looked like winning.
“The final between Dowling and Muldoon was one of the most amazing finals I have ever witnessed at an amateur snooker event. TJ had two 80 breaks and Vinnie a 93 and 121. TJ pulled out what I can only describe as the best shot I’ve seen on a snooker table in Carlow in my 6 years playing there – a long red, the length of the table with the white on the top cushion and he screws it past the green. Jaw-dropping.
“Dowling had the first chance in the deciding frame when it got to 4-4 and had to play safe on a break of 48 after missing a relatively easy cannon. Muldoon immediately knocked in a long red, finished plum on the black and dished with 68 to win the match, a final worthy of any professional TV event.
“In my opinion, Muldoon is the best player in Ireland at the moment. He has the nicest cue action and, for a man who admittedly only puts two days practice in prior to most tournaments, is just an amazing natural talent. He’s not far off the number one spot in the rankings and his dream is to give the professional game one more good shot before leaving for a business job in Wall Street.”
Johnny will be back with more action from the Irish snooker scene in the coming weeks.
Current 2011/12 Irish Senior Rankings Top 10
1. Rodney Goggins – 470
2. Vincent Muldoon – 440
3. Brendan O’Donoghue – 410
4. Joe Delaney – 320
5. John Sutton – 310
6. Greg Casey – 310
7. Keith Sheldreck – 300
8. Jason Devaney – 260
9. Robert Redmond – 250
10. Johnny Williams – 230