David Morris claimed victory in the Hicksons Centra Open on Tuesday night with a 4-1 defeat of Greg Casey in the final in Carlow.
Morris was absent from the Irish scene last season in the year immediately after he fell off the professional Main Tour, but has wasted little time in getting back up to speed on the domestic front during this campaign.
The Kilkenny cueist was a quarter-finalist in last month’s Barracks Classic, showing glimpses of his intention to contend for titles this term, and the 28 year-old duly delivered with success in the Ivy Rooms.
The event began on Saturday and was played down to the semi-final stage before the decision was made between RIBSA and the players to stage the final couple of stages during midweek.
Previously, of course, it had been the norm for senior ranking events to run into the following Sunday but, after consultation between some of RIBSA’s hierarchy and a number of the players at a meeting in the start of October, it had been decided to remove any inevitable clash with the masters tournament on Sunday.
Morris reached the last four courtesy of strong triumphs over Johnny Farrell and Rodney Goggins, while a 4-0 drubbing of fellow three-time national champion TJ Dowling sent him into the final on Tuesday.
The win over Dowling included a terrific 126 that equalled the tournament’s highest break with current national champion Brendan O’Donoghue.
Cork’s Casey embarked on a sterling run to the final with three deciding frame clinchers at the weekend before inflicting a 4-1 loss on Robert Murphy in the semi-finals.
But Morris was to boast that scoreline in the final as he picked up the trophy and winner’s cheque to reaffirm his status as one of the country’s leading competitors.
The victory sends Morris straight to the top of the Irish rankings, ahead of Michael Judge who won the opening ranking event in September.
Morris told SnokerHQ: “I’m delighted to win again and delighted to see all my snooker friends again.”
“I was living in the Middle East all last year and did a lot of travelling. I went to Nepal, Kenya, Vietnam, Bahrain and a few other places.
“I was playing snooker every week in Dubai and, even though I didn’t play any tournaments, I was playing in top quality conditions and was very sharp.
“I made a few maximums out in Dubai. I played GAA with Al Ain GAA club in Abu Dhabi and had completely new experiences.
“It was a brilliant year but at the moment I’m enjoying playing the competitions again.”
Judge, meanwhile, was downed by close pal Murphy in the quarter-finals while O’Donoghue fell in the last 16 to Goggins.
Judge, though, did manage some glory on Sunday as he walked away with the masters tournament.