By Jonathan Williams
My Irish Championship was unfortunately very short lived this year.
I felt really good going into the event as I had practised a few days beforehand and my shoulder was in no pain at all. However, that all seemed to amount to nothing. I missed some very easy balls and Tony Corrigan capitalised on all my mistakes. I’m not going to go into detail about each frame and bore people as I was simply outplayed on the day and well done to Tony.
Noel Landers was awaiting Tony in the next round and I fully expected Tony to get through that match but, as the results show, it wasn’t to be. Landers played like a man possessed for the entire champs and seems to have matured a lot. He had a great win over Tony only to follow it up with arguably the result of the season by anyone’s standard in his 4-0 whitewash of Robert Murphy. Nobody would have predicted that result, let alone the scoreline, so Landers gets one of my players of the Championships accolades.
After beating Murphy, I had Landers firm favourite against journeyman Tom O’Driscoll, who himself seems to have been possessed for the weekend pulling off some amazing results. Tom is a great player but I can’t remember the last time he got to a senior semi-final. He then nearly beat the eventual champion, losing out narrowly to Brendan O’Donoghue 6-5. It was a brilliant performance overall. It’s just a shame he supports Spurs. (Not that it matters now!)
In terms of “surprise results”, I watched Paul McGrane lead Aaron Holland 3-0 only to lose 4-3 for which he must be kicking himself about now. John McBride came out of the wilderness to defeat hotshot Benny O’Brien, who recently beat Mick Judge. It was a great win there for John, who like myself is a Chelsea fan. Paul Ludden subsequently had a nice result in beating McBride.
Adam Fitzgerald had a straight pink to put Robert Murphy out 4-2 in the first round but just snatched at it and he never got another chance. Fionn Comerford recorded a very good victory over Irish international Mark Tuite while Philip O’Connor had one of the wins of the season against Mick Judge. Philip beat me earlier in the season and people were a little shocked but I wasn’t in the slightest. He plays great attacking snooker and is probably the most improved player of the season – highlighted by his run to the last four in Carlow last weekend.
As for the finalists, at this stage I am going to have to do a draft write up about the likes of Rodney and Brendan who constantly get to the latter stages of events. I feel I am repeating myself the whole season about the same few players. Some keyboard warriors are slating the state of snooker in Ireland nowadays saying that it’s a bad thing the same lads keep getting to finals and winning titles but what people are forgetting is these lads are all top European amateurs and ex-professionals. These names are some of the greatest players Ireland has ever produced and their records speak for themselves.
Of course there is a case to be made for the lack of young talent coming through but I see that changing in the next three years or so. For now experience and practice is triumphing over raw talent. Congratulations to Brendan, who now leads the field in most Irish senior title victories and he’s obviously my player of the season.
In terms of the National Championships as a whole, a huge congratulations must go to all of the winners. There are too many to talk about, however a special mention needs to be given to Ross Bulman who won four Irish underage titles, Brendan Thomas, winner of the Irish Intermediate at the age of 62 ( I think), and finally young Ryan McGuirk who gave me a few lessons in Navan over the last year – a great prospect for snooker in this country.
The conditions were perfect and the live streaming is the best new initiative to come into Irish snooker in the last few seasons. It was done brilliantly for the Championships with the committee’s selection of games to play on the streaming tables. It’s what I have been asking for all season. Nobody wants to see me and John McBride when the likes of TJ Dowling is playing O’Donoghue on the next table. Common sense prevails.
Last Saturday also saw the AGM take place at the Ivy Rooms but I actually don’t know the full ins and out of how it went yet. I fully intended on attending because I thought I would be in the last 16 but alas it wasn’t to be and I made other plans after. The website says further details about the AGM will be posted at a later date so I’m awaiting it myself.
I hope the senior events continue in Carlow and the format remains the same but that’s just my own opinion until there is another club with the same facilities, better tables, and better location than the Ivy Rooms now. I know there was discussion about intermediate events and not letting certain players in and I fully agree, it’s still not an even playing field and I think some players are using it for a few easy euros. I look forward to seeing their new rules.
A special mention goes out to everyone who helped run the tournaments over the season – from Marian in the Ivy Rooms, to Pj Nolan, Jim Leacy, and all the tournament directors and referees. As bad as Irish snooker may be at the moment, without their dedication and without the collective effort of everyone it may cease to exist, and I respect that as I love the sport. I hope numbers can improve next year with some of our new initiatives and recommendations from the AGM.
I apologise if I left anyone out. A huge thanks to anyone who actually reads the Sniper’s Snippets articles. It’s all just for the love of the game. I hope next year that I can dedicate myself more to the game and join you all on our quest for Irish world domination.
Until next season,
Sniper over and out!