Features, Irish Snooker, News

TJ Dowling Looks to Defend Irish National Championship

The focus of the majority of snooker fans will be on the Crucible Theatre this weekend and the conclusion of the World Championship.

TJ Dowling (PJN)
Dowling also won the National Championship in 1997 and 1998. Photo credit: PJ Nolan

However, also taking place is the start of the Irish Senior National Championship at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.

The flagship end-of-season tournament on the domestic scene in Ireland is always the most sought after title on the calendar, and will determine whether amateur players in the country will have a content or disappointing summer away from the baize.

Saturday and Sunday will see the entry of 69 whittled down to the final 16, who will then return the following weekend for the 2017 National Championship finals.

TJ Dowling is the reigning champion after his 7-3 success over Jonathan Williams twelve months ago.

It represented Dowling’s third National Championship, meaning another success this year would see him equal the modern day record of four set by Martin McCrudden in 2014.

Dowling has been one of the in-form players of this season having captured two ranking event trophies, and is in the running to finish the campaign as number one in the rankings list.

The Terry Rogers Snooker Club player lies marginally adrift of Brendan O’Donoghue, and just ahead of Michael Judge, who have each also bagged a brace of triumphs since last September.

“The season went very well,” said Dowling, who won the Irish Open and the Grand Prix this term.

“You’d have to be happy with two out of the six ranking tournaments. Throw in last season’s Championships and I’ve won three out of the last seven which is very pleasing.”

“I felt as if I was steady enough all season, there weren’t too many fireworks but it was steady enough all the same.”

“I feel I’m in good nick going into the Championship, mentally anyway, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.

“I’ve been preparing up in Terry Rogers by playing the lads and there’s a new cloth been put on the star table a few weeks ago so I can’t ask for better conditions.

“It would be great to win it for a fourth time and tie wee Marty McCrudden, it’s a brilliant achievement having four of them.

“In saying that, he hasn’t been seen or heard of since Keith Sheldreck beat him on the black to win the Club Championships in Killarney and last I heard he was sighted going loco over in Acapulco.

“It’s tight at the top of the rankings and it’s going to be very close with Brendan, myself, and Mick to see who finishes number one so it’s going to be a great finish.

“The following week after the Championships, I’m heading over to Q School to try and get a professional tour card.

“I’m really looking forward to that as I think there’s no better time to be on the tour, so it would be great to qualify and get a card.

“Even though I’m not particularly playing or practicing more than ever, I’m enjoying it a lot more the last year or so and that’s particularly down to the new stick I got off Abban Reddy.

“He has the Midas touch when it come to cues, it’s an amazing piece of wood and it has given me a new bite when it comes to playing.

“If any player is thinking of changing their cue I would wholeheartedly recommend it.”

Dowling’s National Championship campaign gets under way on Sunday when he awaits the winner of the Patrick Daly and Jake Byrne contest.

Judge also plays on Sunday while O’Donoghue, champion two years ago and currently on top of the rankings by a narrow margin in front of Dowling, will determine whether he advances the day before on Saturday.

Among some of the other ties, last year’s runner-up Williams meets Tony Corrigan while Rodney Goggins entertains James Bateman.

€1,000 is up for grabs for the champion but more important will be the prestige that comes with becoming National Championship and the opportunity to share the honour alongside the likes of Dowling, McCrudden, and 1997 world champion Ken Doherty.

Click here to view the draws

Coverage of the National Championship will be available via live streaming here.

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