Irish duo Brendan O’Donoghue and Josh Boileau both came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the first round of the Ruhr Open, which gets under way on Friday in Germany.
Tipperary’s O’Donoghue has dominated the Irish amateur scene of late, winning the last three ranking events including the National Championship at the Ivy Rooms at the end of the last campaign.
A former pro, the 32 year-old has always had immense ability but it never quite materialised for him in the professional game or on the international stage – but there’s still time.
After knocking out Malta’s Brian Cini in his final preliminary round, O’Donoghue guaranteed himself a crack at 2006 world champion Graeme Dott in the last 128 in Mulheim.
Not many across Europe will give the two-time Irish champion a chance but those on the Emerald Isle familiar with his game will be confident he has a decent chance to continue his run, especially now when his confidence must be so high.
By contrast, Boileau has been struggling a little of late to find the kind of results that helped him reach the finals of both the European and World Under-21 Championships in 2014.
However, the 20 year-old secured a hat-trick of 4-1 victories to set up an intriguing cross border meeting with Antrim’s Mark Allen.
Boileau remains Ireland’s big hope of a future star in the sport but with that must come a lot of pressure on his young shoulders.
It is expected that he’ll eventually get onto the Main Tour but nothing is guaranteed and the avenues onto the circuit are both limited and difficult to achieve.
Should there be another EBSA Play-Off at the end of the season with the best amateurs from the European Tour competing for a number of professional places, that perhaps offers Boileau – and even O’Donoghue – one of the most viable routes.
Meanwhile, countrymen Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien and David Morris are all entering the fray in this, the third Players Championship event of the campaign.
All three face difficult openers, with O’Brien up against world champion Stuart Bingham, Morris challenging Joe Perry and Doherty taking on China’s Yu Delu.
As usual, the first half of the field will be whittled down on Friday, before the same format presides on Saturday, leaving 16 to fight it out for the title on Sunday.
It promises to be another well-run and well-attended tournament in Germany, with the paying punters always very appreciative of the snooker on display.
Hopefully one or more of the Irish contingent can go on a run to sample that atmosphere for themselves near the business end of the weekend.
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