Finals

Ireland Win European Team Championship

Ireland 2 has won the Men’s European Team Championship after a 5-3 victory over Malta 3 at the Dolmen Resort Hotel.

Murphy and Judge after the final - photo courtesy of PJ Nolan.

Murphy and Judge after the final – photo courtesy of PJ Nolan.

The pairing, consisting of Michael Judge and Robert Murphy, overcame the home favourites Tony Drago and Brian Cini in front of a big crowd on Wednesday night.

Much had been made before the international trip, which also consisted of the Masters, Ladies and Under-21 tournaments, of the number of players sent by RIBSA to compete.

With the game in such a questionable state domestically, many pointed to the finances garnered and subsequently utilised in order to fund the jaunt abroad.

Yet, the national association can at least point to this success as a reward for their decision.

Whether this continues to mask over existing problems at home remains to be seen but, regardless, the success is a welcome boost to snooker in Ireland.

The Irish duo reached the final with victories over two Polish outfits and the Israeli national team before narrowly edging the Maltese to capture the coveted title.

Somewhat bizarrely, 47 year-old Drago featured despite still boasting a Main Tour ranking on the professional circuit.

Ireland coach PJ Nolan informed me that the Team Championship was open to any member to enter as there was no pro ticket available to the winner.

However, it seems a little odd to allow a professional player to compete in what is, on the face of it, an amateur-based tournament.

In the final, Drago got Malta – defending champions – off to a perfect start with a break of 78 to establish an early advantage.

Yet, the match arguably hinged on his teammate Cini’s singles games, with the inexperienced 18 year-old losing all three to grant the Irish a strong foothold.

In the end, Murphy saw off the teenager to deny the crowd a grandstand finale and ensure he and Judge went home with the trophy.

Congratulations to them both.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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