The calendar for the upcoming 2014/15 campaign in Ireland was released a few days ago.
This year there will be seven ranking events before the season-ending Irish Championship in May.
The opening tournament will be staged at the North West Snooker Club in Letterkenny on the 11th of October while the remainder of the Senior events will see the competitors return south to the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.
While it is a positive move of sorts to have a competition in Letterkenny, it seems perplexing that only one of the Senior events has been allocated outside of the customary, yet excellent, venue in Carlow.
Moving one out of eight tournaments feels like a half-hearted attempted to silence those who feel that the season’s events should be allocated more generously throughout the island.
It will be interesting to see the numbers who attend the opening event in Donegal as there have been occasions in the past where some of the players further south have failed to enter – perhaps because of the length of the journey.
Yet, it is important for the growth of the game in the northern counties that high-quality competitions are staged in the area.
It surely is no coincidence that the majority of Ireland’s top amateurs – and those who have gone on to gain pro status – in the last number of years have come from counties south of Dublin, or more to the point counties near Carlow.
Whether one solitary tournament in Donegal will have any lasting effect on counties further north and into the west remains to be seen, but the fact that there’s only one will hardly generate repeated interest.
Likewise, the fact that it is the opening event of the season will ensure that its staging will be long forgotten by the time the campaign’s climax comes around.
That said, the Intermediate and underage categories are being spread across a variety of different clubs throughout the country which is definitely promising as concerted efforts to develop the youth game in Ireland continue.
Indeed, before the ranking season commences, RIBSA has introduced a series of Junior Opens for the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21s.
Three tournaments in each discipline – to be played in Letterkenny, Dublin, Carlow and Cork – will be held on the same day with prize money at stake.
Much to the theme of this article, it’s a positive initiative to help get younger players playing and competing the length and breadth of the country.