Features and Interviews

Sniper’s Snippets: The Presidents Cup

By Jonathan Williams

I had prepared well coming up to the Presidents Cup – by that I mean I played most days. However, rather than actually practicing potting, I was picking out balls for John Sutton in Potters Drogheda for a few hours each day. Being totally honest I was very low on confidence heading to the Ivy Rooms and didn’t even fancy beating my first round opponent.

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Michael Judge reached the quarter-finals of the recent IBSF World Amateur Championship. Photo credit: PJ Nolan

I tried to put my practice game behind me and focus on the task at hand. i knew I was going to get a lot more chances than John had been giving me so I used that to my advantage. I played Richie Flynn in the first round and neither of us played well.

it was a scrappy game and Richie even missed the last black in the second frame to hand me a 2-0 lead. He missed a few easy balls and left me in among them a lot. I didn’t have to work all that hard to get my 3-0 win. I have watched Richie playing well and he is a dangerous opening opponent so I was happy to see him playing so poorly considering how I was feeling initially.

In truth, I didn’t fancy my second round opponent much either. Dylan Rees is a top masters player and played pretty decent against me. Through some scrappy frames and a 50 break by himself it ended up 2-2 and the game went into a decider. I’ve no idea where it came from but I had a lovely 95 break and missed the last easy black off the spot for a century, but still won 3-2. This gave me some hope.

In the last 16 that hope was quickly squashed as Brendan O’Donoghue, ranked no.1 heading into the event, beat my high break in our first frame – knocking in a lovely 113 that could have been a 138. I feared the worst and was planning my trip home as Brendan can steamroll people at times.

Our second frame was huge, though. Brendan was ahead the whole frame with four colours on the cushions but I managed to take a few of them one at a time to get back into the frame. Brendan left me a very tricky pink into the middle which I played perfectly to land on the black on the bottom rail. I potted it to go 1-1.

After some very good tactical battles and two scrappy frames it went to another decider. I played some great safety and took my chances, so managed to go 64-1 up pretty quickly. I controlled the frame the whole way through and was happy to escape with my 3-2 win against one of the top competitors this season.

I was starting to feel a lot better about my game but, within 30 minutes of my quarter-final against David Cassidy, I was 2-0 down. David didn’t miss a thing. I knew I had to drag him down to my level and, after winning the third frame, he lost a bit of composure. By contrast, I gained in confidence and brought it back to 2-2 with a few nice shots.

I was ahead the whole last frame until the colours where David looked a certainty to clear up and win on the black. He left himself a tricky shot with the rest on the pink and it stuck over the pocket for me. I was delighted it was so easy as the pressure was on. Another decider and another win, three on the trot now and I was riding my luck.

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The four semi-finalists. (L-R) David Hogan, John Farrell, Michael Judge, Jonathan Williams. Photo credit: PJ Nolan

The following day on Sunday I had Mick Judge in the last four and he made two 50 breaks and a 60 in the first three frames – the format now best of seven. I won a scrappy fourth to stay in it but played an awful lay-up behind the black in the fifth frame with only the colours left. I didn’t hit the black, left myself an impossible snooker and stuck them up for him to take out the match 4-1. No excuses at all as he was just on top form. I was delighted he went on to win the event and even happier he won the masters tournament also for a rare weekend double. He is an amazing player with a brilliant attitude.

The numbers were a bit lower for this event but that’s nothing new for this time of year. If you look back over the previous seasons I am sure this event has the lowest entries as it’s right before Christmas and that’s exactly what I attribute the low numbers to.

A few games to mention in terms of results. I was very impressed with Diarmuid O’Connor’s 3-0 win over Paul Kelly. Greg Casey had a great comeback to defeat Philip O’Connor after being 2-0 down. He subsequently had another impressive victory against the in-form Philip Browne and only narrowly lost 3-2 against Mick Judge in the last eight.

Mark Tuite had a fantastic 3-0 over the current Irish champion TJ Dowling, a bit of a shock result but Mark knows how to get under someone’s skin and did just that. Mark, like myself, wont pot anyone off the table but has a good safety game and wins the scrappy frames quite often. He is precisely the type of player TJ would hate playing. It was great to see TJ on Facebook the following day as he usually goes missing for two weeks after any loss in Carlow.

The win of the event has to go to Johnny Farrell against Robert Murphy. I was watching on while I was playing Cassidy and Johnny should have won 3-1 had it not been for an amazing clearance from Murphy. I thought that would have rattled Farrell but after being about 45 points down in the decider he pulled off an amazing 50 or so break to beat Murphy on the black, a great finish and great win.

A few other things to mention. Martin Mc Crudden still hasn’t made his long awaited comeback for whatever reason while Joe Corrigan, who has been hitting form lately, was an unusual absentee too. That said, I heard he is struggling to adapt to his new Dennis Taylor goggle glasses that have yet to make a public appearance.

There has been a good turn out of youngsters this season and it’s great to see as it is essential if they want to improve their game. Well done to all the officials this weekend, once again the tables were brushed and blocked after each match as it should be. The event ran very smoothly and the live streaming was once again put to good use. Big thanks to Marian for having some amazing Xmas cake on offer. This can be the only reason I won any of my matches.

Congratulations also to Jim Leacy on winning the IBSF Vice President vote. I am not fully sure if or how this can benefit Ireland in any way shape or form but if it can I look forward to reaping some rewards.

A final quick mention for some big snooker events just around the corner. Next weekend is going to be a big one for Potters Drogheda, starting Friday night with a money match for €2,000 between Colvin O’Brien and local pool king Karl O’Donoghue. I see this one going all the way. The following day Potters hosts the Irish Intermediates and on Sunday I am involved in a big money tournament hosted by John Sutton and Rodney Goggins with some high quality players getting involved.

On the same weekend, Terry Rogers SC will be hosting two big money matches. Chris Humphries takes on Daniel Dempsey and Johnny Farrell meets the Northern Ireland machine Colin J. Anderson. A great weekend of snooker/drinking lies ahead!

Until next time, Sniper over and out.

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