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Sniper’s Snippets: RIBSA Grand Prix

Michael Judge won the RIBSA Grand Prix last Saturday to extend his lead at the top of the Irish rankings.

Michael Judge Premier Cup
Judge has now won three ranking events this season – photo courtesy of Ivy Rooms Carlow.

The former pro held off the challenge of Jason Devaney in a close final to prevail 4-2 and move one step closer to finishing the season as no.1.

Judge whitewashed European under-21 champion Josh Boileau in the last four while Devaney defeated national champion Brendan O’Donoghue, who’ll be looking to defend his title next month at the Ivy Rooms.

Once again, County Monaghan’s Jonathan Williams is on hand to give his insightful account of the weekend’s action in Carlow…

By Jonathan Williams 

This tournament was a little frustrating for me to be honest. I practiced a few days beforehand and actually felt really good going into the event, which showed in my first game.

I played a very talented up-and-coming star in Noel Landers, who won the last junior event he took part in. In the first frame I broke off and left the white glued to the top cushion but he just got down and lamped in a long red to be perfect on the black. He was in total control of that frame until the last yellow. Well, I played a great shot and left him in a very difficult snooker. He missed it four or five times, then left me perfect on it and I went on to clear the colours and win on the blue.

I played really good safety after that and controlled the next two frames although both went down to the colours. 3-0 was not an accurate scoreline to be fair and this chap has a bright future in the game. A little piece of advice to him would be that he pushes the boat out a little and goes for one shot too many. If he played a little bit more of a percentage game he will have a lot more results. It was a really good match.

I was up against the fierce Robert Murphy in the next game. I can’t even remember whether Robert and I have ever played in a ranking event before but he beat me down in Killarney so I was well up for the game.

I started the match really solidly and we both played some amazing safety. For me it was the best safety game I have played in a long time, and Robert is very good tactically so even when I thought I had him in a lot of trouble he read the table and never left me any clear cut chances. He potted well and took the first two frames on the colours I think.

Sniper Jonathan Williams
The ‘Sniper’ practicing at 147 Academy – photo courtesy of PJ Nolan.

I didn’t once think I was beaten, though. I felt really good and I dug deep, playing a very solid next couple of frames to go 2-2 and force the decider. He didn’t do much wrong in those frames, I just played better.

The last frame started off like the previous ones with some great safety exchanges until I got a bit of luck and fluked a red. Unfortunately, I didn’t take advantage of it and missed a tricky red to leave Robert stuck in the balls. He showed his bottle and class and cleared up with a 70 break. It was a frustrating loss as I played very well but at the same time Robert played that little bit better and deserved the win. I gave a good account of myself and I was happy with that.

I was surprised to see Robbie was subsequently beaten 3-0 in his last eight game with Jason Devaney but I didn’t see it. Jason is number two for a reason so he knew what was expected of him to beat Robbie and he did the business. He thoroughly deserves his high ranking.

The conditions at the Ivy Rooms were really nice but it was a shame that there was such a poor entry – I think we had around 45 players. To be totally honest, I can’t put my finger on the decline in this event. For me the tournaments have been run to perfection. I like the point system, I like how it is seeded, and the merit point system is great as it means every frame counts. The tournament directors have been running a smooth ship also.

Maybe it was something do to with people keeping money for the horses or St. Paddy’s Day but I really don’t know. Perhaps a survey is needed but you can and never will be able to please everyone.

There weren’t too many stand out performances last weekend as all the usual suspects progressed to the latter stages. That said, once again Philly Browne has impressed me.

He had a very tough opening game against the recent Anthony Quinn Memorial winner, Charlie Sweeney. I watched the first two frames and neither player played well, it all got very scrappy. I didn’t see how the other frames went but it was a great win for Philly. He then played Greg Casey who we all know is a battler, a great match player and lovely break builder and of course an Irish International. I was a bit surprised that Philip beat him in a decider actually, especially as he potentially had an Irish team spot on the line. Overall another good event for himself reaching the quarter-finals and he is in with an outside shot of making the Irish team.

For myself, I had a very hard last 16 match but then again you have to beat the best to be the best. In order to guarantee automatic selection for the Irish team I needed to make the final I think. I just got an e-mail today saying I am first on the reserve list for the European Team event in Lithuania so it’s a waiting game.

That said, I have an extremely busy summer so it’s win-win for me. I would have preferred making the European Mens and played in the recent individual competition in Poland, so that has to be my goal next season, as well as getting to my maiden senior ranking final. I may or may not be going to the National Championship as I have a stag party the same weekend in Bulgaria. If I don’t make the team I don’t have a lot to play for really as I can’t see myself winning the championship with my current work ethic on the table.

Until next time, Sniper over and out!

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