Features and Interviews

Sniper’s Snippets: Irish Masters

By Jonathan Williams

My Douglas Jewellers Irish Masters was very short lived. It was not the best first round draw against Colm Gilcreest, but I didn’t feel confident going into this event and hadn’t really been playing so got the result I expected.

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O’Donoghue moves to the top of the Irish rankings ahead of Judge. Photo credit PJ Nolan

I missed the last ranking event after I suffered a shoulder injury in the gym and then made it worse by playing a lot of snooker straight after. I must have pulled a muscle and to be honest I still haven’t recovered. I have days with no pain and days with a lot of pain. It didn’t feel great for my match this weekend but I hate making excuses and it’s not one. In saying that, Colm played very well, had a good break in each frame, and played solid safety. He froze me out completely and I deserved the 3-0 loss for my efforts, so I’ll leave it there for my weekend.

I felt table five played very slow and it’s a table my eyes can’t adjust to. The way I cue through my dominant right eye, any bit of shadow from another table throws me off completely. There is only a number of tables down there I feel fully comfortable playing on and that’s my fault and no one else’s. It’s luck of the draw for me sometimes. Without a doubt table two is my favourite due to the lighting alone. I heard good reports from other players regarding the re-covering of some of the tables so that’s always a good thing to hear.

There were some notable results over the weekend and although I didn’t see many of them I know the players well enough to comment. In the last 32, Ryan Cronin had a convincing win over Colm. I thought Colm was playing well enough in our match to go far in this event but Ryan is a great player and this was a good win for him. Luke Bateman had a nice victory over Noel Gleeson in the same round also.

Moving on to the last 16, there were some excellent results here. I have to start off with the 3-0 win for Benny O’Brien over Michael Judge. I won’t beat around the bush here, I would have had my house on Judge on current form as the man hoovers up balls for fun. Now Benny can pot as well as anyone but Judge’s tactical game puts everyone under pressure so losing 3-0 with all his accolades was a shock for me and many others. It was a fantastic triumph for Benny, who went on to reach the last four, and I hope he kicks on from here as he must be brimming with confidence.

Another great win but not so much of a shock was Mark Tuite’s 3-0 victory over David Cassidy. Tuite is an absolute grinder of a player and I can only assume he outfoxed Cassidy who is, on his day, a fantastic competitor as well. After beating Gilcreest I fancied Cronin to have a closely fought game against Johnny Farrell, but it seemed very one-sided and another small surprise with Farrell winning with a whitewash.

Last but not least, it was a superb win for Ross Bulman over Rodney Goggins. Ross is a fearless young potter with a good tactical game, and to beat Rodney 3-1 so early on in his career is a great confidence booster.

In the end, though, huge congratulations to both finalists and especially Brendan O’Donoghue who now equals Goggins’ record of 21 Irish ranking titles. It’s only a matter of time until he extends this tally and goes on to rewrite the history books. If memory serves me correctly, Brendan has a decent enough record over Robert Murphy in finals and edged him in the Barracks Classic final earlier this season, which is an achievement in itself as Robert is such a talent.

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The Ivy Rooms was a hub of action, with Keith Sheldreck also winning the masters tournament. Photo credit: PJ Nolan.

Finally, I know I have mentioned this many times about the new live streaming feature RIBSA has going, but I feel more needs to be done regarding which matches are put on certain tables. Not everyone will agree with me but I feel you should earn the right to get on the main streamed table down there, which is table two. The tournament director has to look at the draw and pick out the “big name draw”, the encounter that people want to see.

A fellow snooker player this weekend who was picked to play on the streamed table said to me afterwards that there was no way his game should have been played on table two ahead of the likes of myself/Gilcreest and Goggins/Devaney. I couldn’t agree more, especially for the Goggins/Devaney game as that was final material right there.

If streaming is there to increase the interest of the game, why not put on the best players? That’s not me of course as I am down in 15th position but there are many other matches which have deserved that spotlight and didn’t get it. If Eurosport started streaming Ebdon vs McLeod over Ronnie vs Trump, well they wouldn’t be in business – case closed. RIBSA is always looking to improve the game and this would surely be a step forward.

Until next time, Sniper over and out!

Click here to view the draw.

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