We had known it was likely for quite some time but it was finally confirmed yesterday that the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals will be returning to Ireland for a third straight year next March.
The event will be held from 12-17 March, climaxing on St. Patrick’s Day and will once again be staged at the Bailey Allen Hall in Galway City.
Over the first half of this season all of the players have been battling it out in four-day PTC events all across the UK, Europe and Asia to determine the 32 strong-man field that will contest the Grand Finals.
As always, the format will mirror that of the satellite tournaments with a best of seven system all the way to the final.
All but one of the events have been completed with one still to go in Munich at the turn of the New Year but most of the names have now been determined.
The list will include the likes of world no.1 Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins and Dubliner Ken Doherty – as well as Northern Irishmen Mark Allen and amateur Joe Swail.
It remains to be seen whether or not reigning champion Stephen Lee will be able to defend the title he won last season when he beat Neil Robertson in the final as his suspension from competitive snooker is still under effect.
Nevertheless, the tournament promises to be another positive step in getting Ireland back onto the snooker map.
The 2012 staging was a success with good crowds for most of the week – and especially the weekend – benefiting from the ideal location of the venue at the NUI campus near the town centre.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Galway for this prestigious tournament. The Bailey Allen Hall proved an excellent venue last year and there was a superb atmosphere in the arena.
“The people in Galway and the surrounding area obviously love snooker, there was even a petition among the NUI students to bring the sport back to the city! So it’s great to return and we’re sure the tournament will be well supported.
“The line-up of players is the best there has been for the PTC Grand Finals with so many of the top names in the field, including Darling of Dublin Ken Doherty who no doubt will draw a lot of support.
“The PTC series has taken the players all over the world this season, to countries including China, Poland, Bulgaria, Belgium and Germany. Now all eyes will be on Galway for the thrilling conclusion.
“We have increased the prize money for the Grand Finals this year to £300,000, and the winner’s prize to £100,000, and there are also world ranking points on offer so there’s plenty of incentive for the players. It’s an event not to be missed!”
Shea McNelis from promoter T.H.E Agency added: “We are delighted to be partners again for the PTC Grand Finals and to have this event back in Ireland. The city of Galway really embraced the event last year.”
Ticket details for the tournament will be released soon and fans are advised to book immediately to ensure their chance to see the action live.