Features

Sniper’s Snippets: The Premier Cup

By Jonathan Williams

Congratulations to the history chaser that is Brendan O’Donoghue. It was a poor final by two very tired players but it’s all about the result. I watched the last frame online and although the lads were playing as poor as myself it was a nervy finish. It was all very exciting to watch all the same.

O’Donoghue, right, beat Judge 4-3 in the final. Photo credit: RIBSA

The high break was set twice against Brendan over the weekend with a 127 from Hill and a 138 from Judge. There haven’t been breaks like that down there in a while. Brendan went on to win the event with a high break of just 67. Make what you want of that. He has true grit and match play determination. He is now out in front by himself in senior ranking event titles wins with an amazing 23.

Thankfully, I don’t have to bore everyone on my game this time round as I didn’t enter the event. The reasons being, I am finding the conditions very difficult and I am not preparing as well as I would like so it was a bit pointless throwing away that money.

I can’t qualify for any team at this stage realistically so I’ll just wait for the next event. I did, however, keep up to date with events that weekend by watching the online streaming and looking at the results online where I saw some notable wins.

In the first round, there was a good win for Llyod Myers, a chap I don’t know at all but a 3-0 win against recent international Philly Browne is quite the achievement. Philly, like myself, has gone off the boil a little this season. I can only attribute this to the new baby and a lack of practice.

Paul Griffin was another who had a good win early on. I practiced with Paul leading up to the event as he is a fellow Potters club member and he was playing very well. In saying that, Tony Corrigan was still probably the slight favourite for this win so it was a nice little upset. Lets hope Paul can continue this form in Killarney. The Noel Landers train is still going strong after his top drawer 3-0 success against Philip O’Connor, who will be in the loop for most improved player this season.

Young Aaron Hill continued his great run of form with a 3-0 victory over fellow Cork man Ryan Cronin. Cronin is a great player and a recent finalist so it was a great win here from Hill. Masters legend Mark Tuite enjoyed a solid victory over Landers, while even better again was Benny O’Brien’s win over Robbie Murphy. It was also good to see old foe Vincent Meaney back, a great player in his prime, and obviously getting warmed up for the Munster and All-Ireland Club Championships.

Meaney had a nice 3-2 win over Philly Browne’s conqueror Meyers and subsequently recorded the result of the weekend in the third round when he managed to beat President’s Cup champion Rodney Goggins 3-2 to reach the last eight. Greg Casey also recorded a nice deciding frame victory at this stage when he outlasted four-time national champion Martin McCrudden.

In the quarters, I was watching the Hill versus Stephen Bateman game on the live streaming and Hill didn’t look great when going 2-0 down. Neither player was playing well early on, but I left the house for an hour and came back to see Hill had won 3-2. It was a great comeback over a very in-form Bateman. That was the end of the tournament surprise wins.

I’m not sure how the conditions were over the weekend but they must have improved as the high break board looks a lot better. It was a great turnout of 65 or so players, which is always the way before the team championships take place at the start of the year.

The notable absence of David Morris was a bit perplexing given his ranking but I have heard through the grapevine why he didn’t attend. He hasn’t said it directly to me so I won’t share that information here. My player of the tournament goes to Hill on this occasion due to his wins against Cronin and Bateman, in addition to his high break of 127.

In other news, I have recently been elected on to the RIBSA committee as a players rep. Of course, I am not allowed to talk about private committee stuff but my impression of the committee after my first meeting was a positive one. The concerns of the Irish players were noted on the day and I was told they will be rectified in due course. I would like to take the opportunity to talk about a few of those players’ concerns on here.

Players want to see improvements in the conditions down in the Ivy Rooms and Jim Leacy is in the process of buying a roll of Hainsworth cloth from China to cover all tables before the Championships. It’s badly needed and will be much appreciated by the players.

There are problems with lighting and the casting of shadows onto tables in close proximity to other tables so a suggestion was to lower the lights closer to the table itself. Jim has promised this will be done before the next event. I hope it will indeed solve the problem as some tables are unplayable at times in regard to adjusting to angles and shadows on balls and cushions.

Some players were unhappy with the heating of the club but this has since improved in the last two events due to the heating being turned on earlier in the morning or overnight. Good feedback was given about this.

In future events, there will be additional blocks so players can do their own tables before matches that referees are not available to do so. The masters draw will go to a vote soon and if the majority decide they want to have the draw on the morning of the event this rule will be changed at the start of next season to eliminate the risk of no shows.

In the future, any player who doesn’t pay his deposit by the deadline for international events will lose their place and it will go to the next player in line. This is a great initiative and I hope RIBSA enforce this rule fully as some players are being left to pay more money for flights that should have been booked well in advance.

Some players had prize money concerns – well those who usually win the money really, not me. Anyway, in seasons past RIBSA tried the guaranteed prize money thing but this didn’t work as they were running at a loss. The National Championship in 2016 that I got to the final of had a guaranteed prize fund and RIBSA ended up losing around 4000 euro overall I was told, which is not something we want to see.

The prize money, although very poor, is reliant on player numbers. I have heard that multiple ideas are being thrown out there for sponsorship money so lets hope these materialise. There were many other things discussed at the meeting but, outside of the players committee concerns, I will leave RIBSA to speak about them.

On a last note, I was very pleased to see the new World Snooker Federation event that is being held in Malta and I hope that our association will join up, like many other countries have done already, so our rising stars have a chance of making it on to the main tour.

I don’t know the full ins and outs of this WSF initiative but, at first glance, it looks very exciting and I may even start to practice properly again next season if things take off with it.

Until next time, Sniper over and out.