Michael Judge began the new Irish season by capturing the Barracks Classic at the weekend in Carlow.
The Dubliner, twice a ranking event winner during the last campaign, overcame young talent Stephen Bateman 4-2 in the final.
Bateman, still only 19 but with plenty of international experience representing Ireland in underage international tournaments, featured in a maiden ranking final after an eye-catching 4-1 defeat of Brendan O’Donoghue in the semi-finals.
National champion O’Donoghue, who was also the top-ranked player in the 2016/17 campaign, had coasted through the early rounds but came unstuck against the emerging teenager in the last four.
The final was one step too far for Bateman, though, and despite putting up a good fight he ultimately fell just short against the vastly experienced Judge.
The latter reached the showdown courtesy of an incredible four deciding frame victories – including progressing from tight affairs with Ross Bulman and then the returning Joe Delaney at the penultimate hurdle.
Delaney had taken some time away from the Irish scene but returned with a bang, scoring triumphs against Jonathan Williams, TJ Dowling, and Philip Browne in reaching the semi-final.
Another former professional in Davy Morris also made a comeback, compiling a tournament-high 124 en route to a quarter-final appearance against Bateman.
Judging from some of the comments on the Irish Amateur Snooker Banter Page on Facebook, several of the players were unhappy with the conditions at the Ivy Rooms over the weekend.
There appeared to be numerous lengthy delays, poor preparation, and a lack of a live stream that was so successfully trialled during the last term.
There will be plenty more on those issues with the return of the “Sniper’s Snippets” feature from Jonathan Williams later this week.