The second senior ranking event of the Irish 2017/18 campaign gets under way this morning at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.
Michael Judge is the top seed after his victory in the Barracks Classic last month, fronting a field of 61 entrants.
The Dubliner has therefore been granted a bye into the last 32, alongside the last event’s runner-up Stephen Bateman and defending national champion Brendan O’Donoghue.
Most of the bigger names on the Irish amateur scene have entered and it’ll be interesting to see if Judge can continue his early season run of form.
The first round draw has already thrown up a few interesting fixtures.
Robert Murphy, who you can read more about from his “Sniper Shot” Q&A with Jonathan Williams here, faces young up-and-coming Cork star Ross Bulman, while another Cork contender in Ryan Cronin is up against former Main Tour stalwart Joe Delaney.
Rodney Goggins meets John O’Sullivan and a win for 2016 national champion TJ Dowling in his opening clash against Andrew Doherty will pit him against Kilkenny teenager Bateman in the second round.
A lot of complaints were made from various circles following the last tournament, which resulted in an amicable one-off meeting held between some of the Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association hierarchy and many of the players.
One development from that meeting has been the decision to not overrun the ranking event into the Sunday, when the Masters event generally concludes.
Instead, if the senior competition doesn’t finish on the Saturday, a decision will be made whether to host the remaining ties during mid-week or the subsequent weekend.
Whether this is a suitable resolution for the long-term is up for debate, but for the interim at least it’ll be intriguing to see how it pans out.