By Jonathan Williams
My first event was a bit of a disaster to be honest. I definitely didn’t start the season how I would have liked and I was only a shadow of the player who got to the final of the National Championship in May.
My preparation was no different to last season really and maybe that’s the problem. I started playing the Tuesday before the event and actually felt quite good going down to Carlow on Saturday. Four days before an event maybe isn’t enough but it worked last season for me.
The only thing annoying me before the event was my tip. I need a new tip even since the last campaign and I kept putting it off because it takes me so long to get used to a new one. Anyway straight after my match on Saturday it came off and now I cant use that as an excuse. Not that it was an excuse for my loss at all, I just didn’t feel confident. Most snooker players will know the feeling.
I was up against Philip O’Connor, a good player who I also played last season when I only managed to beat him 3-2 in a very close game. We played on the same table on Saturday so I thought this was a big advantage for me – alas it was not. I went 2-0 up pretty quickly and thought I had the game wrapped up, however I went on to play one of the worst shots I can remember playing. I felt it ultimately turned the game on its head and I 100% deserved to lose from there on in, mainly due to stupidity and a lack of respect for Philip.
Simply put I was a few points ahead on the last red. Philip went in-off with the white and left me a free ball as the last red was directly below the pink. I played my free ball, a brown, and tried to land high on the blue to remove the red, but I finished low. Instead of doing the right thing and just laying an easy snooker, I went to pot the blue and go off the top cushion, then side cushion and try to dislodge the red and pink. I was close but didn’t get it, it was reckless and Philip won that frame on the pink.
He won the next frame once again on the colours and cleared up in the decider with a break of 27 to beat me on the black. All in all I lost all three frames on the colours in a game I should have won 3-0. Philip even said at the end that he didn’t know why I went for that stupid shot. A lack of match practice I shall but it down to. Fair play to Philip for holding his nerve and pulling off a great finish to win the match and he fully deserved the victory. As the great Conor McGregor would say, “We win or we learn” – I love this quote.
Meanwhile, the table I played on is probably the best table in the Ivy Rooms so I couldn’t complain but there were a lot of players who were very unhappy with the conditions on the day – mostly due to bad bounces from cushions. I think the scoring overall was very low compared to other events and I don’t even know if there was a century made all weekend. It’s a strange one as the tables were only recovered for the National Championships before the summer.
Due to my lack of time in the venue I admittedly didn’t get to see a lot of matches but I did get to see a few. I was enthralled by the Joe ‘Value’ Corrigan and TJ ‘The Tiger’ Dowling encounter.
It eventually went 2-2 and TJ got very lucky with a safety shot on the last blue that would have left an easy finish for Joe, but sure you can only play the balls as they say and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Neither player was near their best and it wasn’t a great match.
Another match I watched was David Hogan vs Noel Landers, which similarly went down to the wire. Both players looked in great form with Hogan’s experience proving vital in the final frame. Noel Landers, as I said last year, is a name to watch out for in the future. He needs to just relax and take his time a little more.
The last game worth mentioning from what I saw was the tie between Daniel O’Regan and Karl O’Donoghue. Karl is a world class pool player and only recently entered his first Irish snooker event getting the whole way to the final, beating none other than Philip O’Connor along the way and only narrowly losing out to Joe Corrigan in the final so I thought this would be an interesting match. The first two frames went very scrappy and the snooker player in O’Regan is always favorite in those types of games I think. He took them both and led 2-0. Karl is a potter and took the next frame easily with some great potting. On a few occasions in the last frame I did see O’Regan getting a bit of good fortune and he made the most of his opportunities and took out a close fourth frame to win 3-1. Karl will be back I have no doubts.
Also worth mentioning is young Ross Bulman after his great run to the quarter-finals. He can definitely finish top 10 this year and the experience will do him the world of good .
With regard the entries, the number of 62 competitors was pretty good to be fair. I don’t think snooker in Ireland is dying at all, I just think some players cant be bothered any more and it’s simple as that.
A final word has to go to our finalist Robert Murphy and eventual winner Brendan O’Donoghue on another steady as ever performance. Robert has been around a long time now winning multiple ranking events and is one of Ireland’s top amateurs ever. He has a lovely cue action and makes the game look so easy at times.
Brendan O’Donoghue is in the top three players in Ireland that I really enjoy watching. He studies a table so well and is a top class break builder. We have had some great games in the past. I cant really say much about the final but I’ll end with this. Brendan now has an astonishing 20 Irish senior ranking titles to his name, bettered only by the determinator (Yes, I made this word up!) Rodney Goggins on 21. I am told also that no one is within 6 titles of Brendan either. A big shout out to Rodney who missed the first event due to a sporting injury and I hope he is better for the next tournament – as long as I don’t draw him.
I would like to say well done to the tournament directors as everything seemed to have ran very smoothly. They are making great use of this new ‘dinner bell’ system when it’s time for another player to be sent to the slaughter. Well done to the floating referees, I hope they are kept for every senior event as it’s only proper. Well done to Jim and Marian for the venue as the hospitality is always top class and I am always fed well.
Another well done must go out to both Paula Judge and Ronda Sheldrick who despite knowing their limitations braved it out and entered the men’s event last weekend. I watched some of Paula’s match and Philip Browne seems to be working magic on her technique as it’s coming on very nicely. Just a pity he can’t correct his own…I joke! It’s a great experience for the lady competitors and can only do good things for their games.
Lastly, a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me for my upcoming 24-hour Snooker Marathon in aid of my local cancer society. My father was diagnosed with bowel cancer many years ago and was very lucky to survive his ordeal. He puts his recovery down to all the doctors and nurses that helped him along with the grace of God. Your money will be going to a brilliant cause!
Until next time, Sniper over and out!