The 2015 IBSF World Championship gets under way in Egypt on Monday.
A strong eight-man team representing Ireland in the Men’s and Masters events have made the trek to Hurgada in search of global glory.
The Masters team consists of Tom O’Driscoll, Anthony Bonnar, Alen Matic and Colm Gilcreest but the primary focus will be on the main event concerning the Men’s championship.
A lot of notable names have lifted the prestigious amateur trophy down through the years, including Dubliner Ken Doherty and Antrim’s Mark Allen.
The likes of current Crucible king Stuart Bingham, former UK champion Stephen Maguire, Hong Kong favourite Marco Fu and all-time legend of the sport Jimmy White have similarly held the mantle in the past.
Hoping to join that illustrious band of names is an Irish quartet comprising Brendan O’Donoghue, Rodney Goggins, Greg Casey and David Cassidy.
In a tournament which boasts 134 players from all across the planet, competition will certainly be stiff.
As ever with these international amateur tournaments, proceedings begin with the competitors being separated into round-robin groups before a knockout format ensues to eventually determine a champion.
All four Irishmen will be expecting to emerge from their initial league phase unscathed before the hard work really begins.
Irish national champion O’Donoghue will be among the highly fancied and is in good form having won the last three ranking events on the domestic circuit.
Goggins was O’Donoghue’s primary challenger last season, and indeed finished the campaign with the most ranking points, but has been in quieter form so far this term so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of game he can bring.
Cork duo Casey and Cassidy bring a wealth of international experience with them despite their young ages of 25 and 22 respectively.
In 2014, Cassidy reached the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship – losing to eventual champion Oliver Lines who now plies his trade on the Main Tour – while Casey has starred in plenty of Home Internationals sides and last week featured in the last four of the unfinished Irish Open in Carlow.
While expectation for the foursome to do well will be high, realistically they will need to perform to the peak of their abilities to feature deep in the tournament – such is the overall quality on show.
In the last decade Asians have tended to dominate the World Championship, with three Thais, a pair of Chinese, a Pakistani, an Iranian and an Indian all on the winning podium since 2003.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are only two Chinese players competing this year but Zhao Xintong, the 2013 runner-up, will in particular fancy his chances.
Other noteworthy names include England’s Adam Duffy, Thailand’s Issara Kachaiwong and Welshman Jamie Clarke – the beaten finalist in both the World Under-21 and European Championships in 2015.
Of course, a big incentive to go on and win the event other than the prestige itself, is that a potentially lucrative place on the professional tour will also be at stake for the champion.
It’s sure to be an exciting couple of weeks in the Land of the Pharaohs.