105 players from around the globe head to Bangalore for the 2014 IBSF World Championship in India this week.
Of that immense number, four Irish hopefuls will attempt to capture the annual blue riband event of amateur snooker.
Back-to-back Irish champions came in 1989 and 1990 when wins for Ken Doherty and Stephen O’Connor spearheaded a golden age for snooker in the country.
Aside from one further finalist, Colm Gilcreest in 2008, nobody has come near to claiming the prestigious title – which has been contested for since 1963.
But Ireland will be represented by a very strong quartet of competitors who could all lay claim to challenging for eventual glory.
Of those, 19 year-old Josh Boileau arguably represents the country’s best chance for success, not only in this tournament but also potentially in the professional game in the future.
The Naas native has already finished runner-up in both the World and European Under-21 Championships in 2014 and heads to India with high hopes of a victory that will earn him a ticket onto the Main Tour.
As always with these international amateur competitions, the high number of entrants will comprise a significant percentage of weaker oppositions and qualification out of the initial round-robin phase will probably legislate as the bare minimum of achievement.
The remaining Irish trio will be equally desperate to perform well with veterans Michael Judge and Robert Murphy joined by another youngster in Jason Devaney.
Devaney created history in 2011 when, as an 18 year-old, he became the first player to become national Senior, Under-21 and Under-19 champion in the same campaign.
The most noticeable name in his group is England’s Ryan Causton while Murphy is in Group A alongside Nick Jennings.
Meanwhile, Judge, who spent two decades as a stalwart professional and competed at the Crucible before triumphing in the 2013 Irish National Championship, has familiar American Ajeya Prahbaka for company in Group J.
Tom O’Driscoll, Stephen Walsh, Keith Sheldreck and Anthony Bonnar will be fighting for in the Masters discipline.
Good luck to all of the lads involved.
There are 2 players by the name Muhammad Asif playing in Pakistan. The Muhammad Asif who is in Josh Boileau’s group is not the player who won the final against Gary Wilson in Bulgaria.
Thanks for letting me know!