It is looking increasingly likely that there will be no new Irish additions to the Main Tour for the upcoming 2014/15 campaign.
All five players representing Ireland at this year’s Q-School in Gloucester have cued their last shot and are preparing for the flight home.
There were two chances for Martin McCrudden, John Sutton, Leo Fernandez, TJ Dowling and Jason Devaney to achieve their pro status with two events granting four tour invitations each.
Sutton came the closest to mirroring David Morris’ feat this time last year but an impressive run to the final round of Event 1 ended with a heavy 4-0 defeat by returning pro Craig Steadman.
Indeed, the green army’s retreat was finalised with another whitewash loss for Sutton today – this time against the popular Canadian Alex Pagulayan.
The fact that Sutton had already won six matches by this point at the Capital Venue and still failed to qualify reflects how tough a school the process is.
Sutton’s Celbridge clubmate McCrudden, a three-time national champion, also performed well but was beaten by another recent fallen professional in the dangerous Chinese Zhang Anda at the penultimate stage of Event 1.
1997 and 1998 national champion TJ Dowling fell early in the first event but a brace of 4-2 victories this week offered renewed hope, before the third Celbridge cueist bowed out to George Pragnall this morning.
It’s a disappointing end to what had been an encouraging week or so for the country at what is a highly competitive event.
What it clearly demonstrated is that Irish snooker still boasts a plethora of high-quality players.
That they are not given the chance to compete more often, mainly through sponsorship but also through other side issues, is a serious problem that needs to be addressed if the sport is to grow again on the island.
Hopefully these performances, as well as those from the likes of the younger players in the international tournaments of this year such as Josh Boileau and David Cassidy, will encourage more teenagers to take up the game and, equally as important, businesses to support them.
There have been plenty of false dawns in recent years.
Action needs to be taken by those with authority to ensure that this doesn’t materialise into yet another one, and that the clear progress that has been made continues.