Last weekend, Ireland’s Josh Boileau collected his second runners-up trophy in a major international event in as many months.
The Kildare cueist ended an amazing run to the final of the World Under-21 Championship in the United Arab Emirates with an 8-3 loss to Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri.
This followed up a similar journey in the European Under-21 Championship at the end of March where Boileau also placed second to England’s Oliver Lines.
On both occasions, the 18 year-old narrowly missed out on the opportunity to join an illustrious band of names who have earned glory in both of those prestigious amateur competitions.
In addition, potential places on the professional Main Tour have been at his fingertips but agonisingly gone astray – for now at least.
However, if Boileau continues to demonstrate this level of form it is only a matter of time before he takes the almost inevitable step up in class.
After catching up with the CYMS Newbridge player, Boileau’s appreciation of the amateur game and its history reflects the wise head on young shoulders that he boasts, and points to a potentially long and fruitful career in the sport.
Here’s what Josh had to say after his latest efforts in Al Fujairah:
“Myself and all the Irish lads got off the plane in Dubai into about 40 degrees of heat and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know if I could manage to play but the air conditioning was perfect so I was delighted.
“When we got to Al Fujairah the hotel was beautiful and the venue was as well so I was excited to get started. I had a tough group of five players with three getting into the knockout phase. I played my good mate Tom Rees in my first match and lost out 4-0. I think he’d agree with me when I say we both played like beginners but he played slightly better so he deserved the win. I had Yan Bingtao in my next match – a very good player from China – so I really needed the win. I came through it 4-2 and then won my last two matches also, but not convincingly. I barely scraped third place even though I lost only one match.
“In the last 48 I won 4-1 and after a 5-1 victory in the last 32 I was starting to feel much better about my game. I came up against a boy from Pakistan in the last 16 and won 5-1 and then I played Scotland’s Lee Mein in the quarter-final and won 6-0, albeit I don’t think Lee played to his capabilities so I was fortunate.
“When it came down to the semi-final against ZhaoXintong I knew I was up against it. I understood he was one of the pre-tournament favourites so I knew I’d have to play brilliant to beat him. And I did. He went 2-1 up with a century break and I came back at him with a 60, ton, ton and a 90 to go 5-2 ahead. Just at that time when I thought I was playing well Hossein (Vafaei Ayouri) was knocking in a 147 next to me in the second semi-final so the standard was very, very high for people watching. I held it together in the end to win that match 7-6 on the pink after he came back at me and it was the best victory of my career in my opinion.
“When it came down to the final against Hossein I was very confident after beating Zhao and it was my second major final in two months so I felt really good. But I started really poorly going 4-0 down, mostly from missing long balls and leaving him in. I brought it back to 4-1 but I missed the black with the rest down the cushion for 4-2 and for me that was the changing point in the match. He took that frame and the next one to lead 6-1 at the interval instead of 5-2 or maybe 4-3 so it was huge.
“I came back out then with nothing to lose. We shared the opening two frames and then I had a 99 to go 7-3, but he took the next frame to take the match and in the end the best player won. Overall my week was pretty successful considering how poorly I played in my group games so I’ve come home happy enough. As for Hossein, as he’s living in Navan now I’ve had the pleasure to practice with him and he is an incredible player. I’m not 100% sure about what the problem is with his visa and getting on the tour but you couldn’t meet a nicer fella and he thoroughly deserves to be on that tour because he’s world class.
“A few people were wondering why I chose Dubai over Q-School and for me personally I just figured, I won’t be under 21 all my life, Dubai has been a place I’ve always wanted to go to and I firmly believed I’d a great chance of winning the event. Ultimately, I think I showed that by reaching the final.
“The support from home and all the other Irish lads was incredible and thank you again so much because it helps an awful lot knowing everyone is supporting you back home.
“Next stop for me is Bulgaria for the European men’s in about 10 days time and hopefully I can go one better over there. Third time lucky.”