Features and Interviews

Sniper’s Snippets: The President’s Cup

By Jonathan Williams

In short, it was another disappointing event for me after getting knocked out in the first round. I can’t buy a decent first round draw nowadays. I had Joe Delaney and John O’Sullivan in both events I entered, neither of whom anyone would like to get, especially in their first round. I am very much a confidence player and I need a few games under my belt to contend as I struggle big time with the conditions in Carlow.

Ryan Cronin Rodney Goggins President's Cup

Goggins, right, beat Cronin 4-0 to win the third ranking event of the season. Photo credit: RIBSA.ie

In my match with John he scored pretty well actually and he went two-nil up very quickly as I was literally not even getting close to pots. I let him in way too much and he can punish you in and around the balls. He is also a good safety player.

His cue action is similar to mine and, like me, he just lacks some cue power that prevents him from taking on certain shots. Such is life. When I was behind I had nothing to lose so I relaxed and started playing a little quicker. I had a good 60-odd break in the third frame and took the next easily enough too. At 2-2 I had my chances and it’s a frame I won’t forget in a long time as I felt I got very unlucky with an in-off on the last brown. Alas, it wasn’t to be and my fight continues.

To be honest, it’s been the same for the last three years. I haven’t had the time to play every day as I would like and sometimes you just don’t deserve to reap any rewards for lack of effort. In saying that, I didn’t prepare well for the National Championship a few years back when I reached the final. However, on that occasion, I did get a few matches under my belt and grew in confidence, which makes me a handful for anyone. Overall, John deserved his win.

There were a few notable matches and results from the competition but it’s been a while since the early stages of the event so I’m not sure how accurate my memory can be. In the last 32, there was a good win for David Cassidy against Tony Corrigan, who had an amazing clearance to win on the final black in the decider from what I can remember. Young Ryan McGuirk had a great effort against Jason Devaney, only narrowly losing out 3-2 in that one.

Meanwhile, Philip O’Connor was continuing his great run of form recently with a great 3-2 win over young hot shot and Irish international Ross Bulman. Philip is definitely going to be up there with my most improved player of the season if his form continues. Daniel Merrigan nearly produced a small shock before narrowly losing out 3-2 to Philip “The Finisher” Browne – who has fallen a little out of sorts of late.

Daniel O’Reagan had a convincing win over my victor John O’Sullivan and Ryan Cronin had a good deciding frame success over fellow Cork teammate Greg Casey – who, incidentally, is the feature of the next “Sniper Shot“.

The shock of the event took place in the last 16 with Aaron Hill beating Davy Morris 3-0 in little or no time. I watched Hill for the first time in that match and I am very excited for his future.

In the quarters, Ryan Cronin beat Robert Murphy convincingly while Stephen Bateman continued his fine form with a 3-2 triumph over Philip O’Connor. After that, there were no real shocks for the rest of the event really.

I suppose I would have to share my player of the tournament nominations with Ryan Cronin, who reached his first final for a couple of years, and Aaron Hill, solely for his win over Morris. Of course, huge congratulations must go to the machine that is Rodney Goggins. There is nothing I can say on here that people don’t already know. What is interesting, though, is his battle with Brendan O’Donoghue for the all-time senior ranking event wins. They are very close at present so that’s intriguing.

In terms of conditions, I was inundated with messages directly after the event with people slating how bad things have gotten over the last two seasons. The main complaints from players were that the tables play very “damp”, they are cold, and players can’t understand why the under-table heating system isn’t utilised any more.

It was noted by a member of the Players Committee that the heaters would only ever need to be on “one day prior to the event and the day of the event itself,” which of course I agree with. As far as I am aware six tables were re-covered for last year’s Championships but the other tables are sometimes unplayable. The bouncing cushions, in particular, are catching many players out.

Personally, my main concern is not the heating of the tables nor the cushions – I can live with those issues. But I would like to see each table getting some sort of light shade put around the light so the shines from adjacent tables are not casting shadows on to each other. As another player said, “it’s a guessing game at times” in terms of judging an angle.

If these few things could be fixed I think the breaks and the general attitude of players would improve greatly. Of course, you will never please everyone but I fear a low entry in the next event and I hope I am wrong. In saying all that, the Ivy Rooms gets absolutely no money from RIBSA for the re-covering of tables so it is a very expensive job to do and everyone should take that into consideration. Jim should now prioritize what needs to be done and hopefully have conditions perfect by the time the Championships come around, or sooner.

On a more positive note, the streaming with live scores was a huge success. It cost RIBSA around €2,000 and it was a great investment as we now own the system and it can be brought to each club for every event – pending that club has a high-speed wifi internet connection. I thought the T.D.’s were doing a great job up to a certain point in regards brushing and blocking tables after each match. I think the tournament was also run very smoothly up to a point also.

However, there were some questionable decisions made towards the end of the event, whilst I was long home. I have been told that, even though we had four tournament directors or officials on the day, which was way too many in terms of cost cutting, some of them sat watching without even offering to referee. For me, this is perplexing.

I was also told that players were let go at either 8pm or 9pm so that the event wouldn’t run too late. The whole idea behind not having the event run too late, and finishing it at a later date, was making sure it wasn’t going to interfere with the masters tournament on the following day. In this case, it was not going to as there were no masters players left in the draw. In future, if all players are ready and able they should be let go ahead, regardless of time. As it was, the event finished two weeks after its scheduled date.

Now, I also heard a certain player said they were unable to play the following day or stay on late or something like that? Once again, this confuses me. If you enter an event knowing you can’t finish it on the weekend, why even bother entering? This needs to be looked at from RIBSA and the rules need to be set in stone.

Another point players want sorting is the issue with the draws. Some people have voiced their concerns that there is fixing going on and that certain players are getting easier draws than others. Now, I have no doubt this is not the case but, to put people’s minds at ease, it would be very easy to do the draws live on Facebook for everyone to see, which would also add a bit of excitement in my opinion.

Finally, as most people are aware at present we have a new Players Committee going. The aim of this committee is to listen to the concerns voiced by everyone who is a member of RIBSA and not outside parties. We are also here to try and improve the game and get some sponsorship back into the events.

In future, if any player has any concerns, please let me or other committee members know your concerns. At present, we do not have a representative on the RIBSA board but that is in the works and it’s looking like either myself or Martin McCrudden. I think I may tip Martin to this vote as the last time he was in the Ivy Rooms I was still in nappies.

Until next time, Sniper over and out.

Click here to view the President’s Cup draw.

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