By Jonathan Williams
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I’m sure by now players and fans alike are getting bored of my self-proclaimed lack of practice this season so I wont blabber on much about it. The fact of the matter is, though, I’m not putting in the three or four hours a day I used to when I was in Maynooth, but somehow I am still managing to win matches.
I can only put it down to having no expectations of myself and thus having no pressure to win games on my shoulders. As a quick synopsis, my tournament was both great and terrible at the same time.
I won my first match easily against a very young newcomer named Cathal Burke so I can’t say much about that tie really. My second match versus Colvin O’Brien was a completely different story however.
I have beaten Colvin the last few times we have played and I started well in this match too, going 2-0 up very quickly. Uncharacteristically for Colvin, he kept his head, dug in deep and managed a great comeback despite the fact he looked very much under the weather, so to speak. Yet, despite forcing a decider I was able to control the last frame well and I think he felt a little bit of pressure near the end.
My last 16 match against Greg Casey was always going to be a close encounter as we generally have good games. Greg beat me 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the Irish Open so I was hoping for some revenge.
That plan didn’t start off well as he went 2-0 up and looked very confident. I managed to claw my way back to 2-2 with a bit of luck and some bad run of the ball for Greg. In the last frame we both gave each other many chances to win and it was after an in-off from Greg that I took the initiative in the decider.
Greg, like Colvin, seemed to have a bit of a flu or cold but it was an important win for me as I am chasing that Home Internationals spot as well as a European Team Championship place, not to mention the fact that myself and Greg have been close to each other in the rankings.
That victory sent me into the quarter-finals but the next match was very disappointing for me on the day. Jason Devaney is a top player and this time I had a few matches under my belt and was in better shape to give him a good match unlike our previous semi-final meeting.
Both of us were playing quite well at the beginning and I went into a 2-1 lead, before Jason dominated the fourth frame to level. Sadly, the last frame was just a complete sham. Jason was going for huge pots up the rails, pots that if he missed would have given me a great chance to win the frame and match. The thing was, he didn’t miss them!
He pulled off some great pots throughout the contest. That being said, when Jason did miss the odd ball he never really left me on which got me a little hot under the collar and I lost some concentration towards the end. He did give me a glorious chance on the last red to finish the match off and my lack of practice and composure showed as I missed a straightforward pot by a mile. I had another chance on a tricky blue but I now realise I was playing too fast and should have gotten up off the shot and looked at the angle before playing it.
Anyway, you live and learn and get out what you put in so all in all a quarter-final was a great day’s work for me and keeps me in contention with the big boys in the rankings.
I, once again, found the conditions at the Ivy Rooms very good. Yet, I found players complaining about the place being too cold in the mornings and too hot in the evenings so I suppose you can’t please everyone. The tournament was run very well and at least this time the tables were blocked before each match which is the least we can expect.
I will reiterate my concerns about table 5 and table 10 as they need new cushions very soon. The bounces off both bottom rails are seriously off-putting. The cloths, speeds and pockets, however, are dead on.
As for the rest of draw there were actually quite a few shocks. Josh Boileau’s early exit was probably the biggest of the weekend, but in saying that his opponent Ian Smith has been dangerous on occasion.
Another huge shock was Brendan O’Donoghue losing a match from 2-0 up, something I have never seen or heard him do before. Going on merit I suppose TJ Dowling’s loss to Daniel Dempsey was an upset too but Dempsey is a top quality player who is obviously putting in the hours. He always has the potential to lift his game for the big occasion.
Some would say Ryan Cronin’s win over Martin McCrudden was a surprise but they would be wrong. Ryan on his day can beat anyone and is a very dedicated and determined player. He had a century break in that game and went 2-0 up against Mick Judge also.
Finally, it has been written elsewhere that my win against Greg was a shock, and in some ways it was as I am not putting in the practice, but considering I was ahead and am now further ahead of Greg in the rankings, it makes the comment a little unfair one thinks.
As for the champion, congrats once again to Mick Judge on another fine victory. His class is permanent and, for a man who was dying sick all weekend and wasn’t even going to show up, he did pretty well. He even went on to get to the final of the masters event so a great weekend overall. Colm Gilcreest is an animal so no shame in defeat there.
It was also a great comeback tournament from runner-up David Hogan after missing an event and having an early exit in another. When this lad puts his head down, he is still without doubt one of the best players in Ireland.
Commiserations, though, to me good pal Peter “The Player” Dunne who is yet to get off the mark this year. He has had some horrible first round draws but needs to get the head down and put more practice in on the table instead of on the new woman in his life!
Last, but not least, I would like to give a mention to Philip “The Finisher” Browne who, hands down, is probably the most improved player on tour this season. He has had some big wins recently and, from 2-0 down to Hogan, showed some great bottle to come back and force the decider. I think if Philly brushes up on his safety game a bit more he will go on to bigger and better things.
Until next time, Sniper over and out!