Professional snooker may be at an end for the 2015/16 season but there’s still one more big amateur title to be decided on the Irish front.
The Irish National Championship reaches its conclusion this weekend in Carlow with 16 players set to battle it out for the campaign ending title.
Many of the greats from the amateur scene in the country have etched their names into history by claiming the prestigious domestic trophy.
Dublin’s Ken Doherty won the tournament twice in 1987 and again in 1989, which acted as a spearhead for future success among the professional ranks, including famously lifting the World Championship trophy in 1997.
20 year-old Josh Boileau, from nearby Naas in County Kildare, will be hoping to forge a similarly successful career as he enters his rookie pro season in a few weeks.
This 2016 Irish Championship at the Ivy Rooms represents Boileau’s last opportunity, for the foreseeable future at least, to join its roll of honour.
After winning the European Under-21 Championship earlier this year, for which he gains a two-year card onto the Main Tour, Boileau will seek to end his amateur career on a high.
“The Senior Championship is the only event I haven’t won really,” said Boileau, who also won The President’s Cup this season.
“I’ve won all the junior events, so it’s the only thing left for me to accomplish.
“I’ve gained some confidence after the World qualifiers. Even though it didn’t go to plan I took the positives from the experience and learned from my mistakes.
“I’m putting the hours in on the table so I’m sure the results will speak for themselves this coming weekend.”
Boileau will attempt to win four more matches at this level and he first meets Stephen Reddington in the last 16.
He’ll face stiff competition, though, with the top half of the draw looking particularly loaded with notable names.
Defending champion Brendan O’Donoghue is on the hunt for a third title and will play John Farrell for a quarter-final berth, where he could possibly lock horns with fellow Tipperary man David Hogan – a twice beaten finalist.
Hogan faces George O’Hara while fellow former pro Joe Delaney plays Keith Sheldreck.
Meanwhile, 2011 champion Jason Devaney, the highest seed in the draw following top ranked Michael Judge’s decision not to enter, has a tough task against two-time winner TJ Dowling.
In the bottom half of the draw Boileau will be competing with the likes of Rodney Goggins, the champion in 2000 who faces young talent Stephen Bateman.
Elsewhere, Jonathan Williams enjoyed two good victories in the preliminary rounds last weekend and the former semi-finalist tackles John O’Sullivan.
Philip Browne, one of the most improved players on the circuit this season, is set to play Tony Corrigan.
The weekend will also see the various national champions determined in the Masters, Intermediate, Ladies, Billiards and Junior cycles but the main final will take place on Sunday over the best of 13 frames.
With €1,000 on offer for the champion, and the esteem that will come with being triumphant, it’s sure to be a hard-fought three days of snooker.
The best of luck to all involved.