Irish Snooker, News

Irish Championship and RIBSA AGM This Weekend in Carlow

The Irish National Championship concludes this weekend in Carlow when a champion will be crowned from the final field of 16 in the Ivy Rooms.

O'Donoghue and Goggins played each other in three out of the seven ranking event finals this season - photo courtesy of Ivy Rooms Carlow Facebook.
O’Donoghue and Goggins played each other in three out of the seven ranking event finals this season – photo courtesy of Ivy Rooms Carlow Facebook.

Favourite for the title will surely be Rodney Goggins, who captured three titles this season en route to finishing the campaign as the number one ranked player.

However, the 147 Wexford cueman, who has been one of the most consistent performers for years and won the season-ending trophy in 2000, faces stiff opposition in the fourth round in the shape of John Sutton.

Sutton will be trying to put some gloss on a damaging season that has seen him face match-fixing allegations from the World Snooker Integrity Unit.

The winner of the Goggins and Sutton tie will surely feel well equipped to go on and do further damage in the tournament but there are plenty of others who will be fancying their chances as well.

The main challenges will be expected to come from the other two multiple winners on the circuit this year – Brendan O’Donoghue and Michael Judge.

Both are former Irish champions with O’Donoghue’s success coming 12 years ago while Judge has featured in the last two finals, winning in 2013.

The latter takes on Colvin O’Brien while Nenagh’s O’Donoghue battles Dubliner Philip Browne for a place in the quarter-finals.

O’Donoghue’s fellow Tipperary native David Hogan is another key name to look out for with the ex-pro taking on John Farrell.

Hogan hadn’t competed all season but everybody is well aware of his talent and the 27 year-old has twice come runner-up in the championship.

Meanwhile, Daniel O’Regan challenges 2013 finalist Robert Redmond while 1993 champion Colm Gilcreest takes on Cork’s David Cassidy.

Cassidy’s Crucible clubmate Greg Casey is drawn against Peter Donegan but his participation looks set to be unlikely as he attempts to join the Main Tour from Q-School 2 later this week.

Finally, Robert Murphy, one half of Ireland’s victorious European men’s team alongside Judge, is another danger man and he faces Adam Nolan.

The Senior Championship will be resolved on Friday and Saturday while the masters, intermediates, juniors and ladies disciplines are also set to be decided throughout the weekend until Sunday.

But one important event that all the players and associates of the game should make a note of attending on Saturday at 1:00pm is the Annual General Meeting.

It is here that everybody has the opportunity to question the management and its current regime, highlight issues that need to be amended, offer suggestions for the future, and, put simply, have their voices heard.

What needs to be done?
What needs to be done? The AGM is at 1pm on Saturday at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.

So far there have been two declarations of intent for chairmanship made public that I know of – one from current Chairman John Doherty and another from former Chairman Jim Leacy.

Neither are in any way especially radical – indeed, both basically suggest changes that have been tried and implemented in the past.

It’s a shame that there isn’t a new face with fresh ideas to come on board as, really, the last thing that the game in Ireland needs is a continuance of archaic attitudes.

Yet, when all the debating is done and dusted, the important question that needs to be answered is how the game can be developed domestically in a better way, with much less emphasis put on the expensive international trips.

Yes, wearing the green waistcoat may be the pinnacle of an amateur player’s career in Ireland but the pool of players from which RIBSA gets to select from for these jaunts, especially among the senior set-up, is dwindling dramatically year on year.

Thankfully, the ridiculous motion to reserve half of the players’ ranking event entry fees for the international trips that was so abhorrently met with during the campaign looks set to be scrapped.

As one club owner, Noel Diamond of the Classic Snooker Club in Finglas, wrote to me recently, the precise particulars of all of RIBSA’s annual expenses need to be laid out in a simple format for everybody to view.

Diamond was searching for clarity on a range of issues but was particularly interested as to “what level of support in monetary terms has been given to clubs for repair and renewal of tables and facilities” and the exact catalogue of expenses incurred by the governing body during the international events.

“When travelling abroad,” Diamond queried, “are the players accommodated to the same standard as the RIBSA reps? Do the RIBSA reps have use of credit cards and how are these treated in yearly accounts?”

Another point raised by many in recent months is whether or not national coach PJ Nolan has been utilised in an effective enough way.

Similarly, the issue of advertisements and sponsorship always arises, although the fact of the matter is that it will continue to prove difficult to encourage businesses to come on board.

Yet, prospective backers may be more freely forthcoming in the future if the handling of the sport domestically is orchestrated in a more efficient manner.

Just because RIBSA is the head of a sport at amateur level does not mean it cannot be run under a professional guise.

Achieving this in the short term must be at the forefront of all agendas.

The full schedule for the Championship weekend can be viewed here. 

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