The European Under-21 Championship is down to the last 32 after the round-robin phase and the opening knockout round was completed on Wednesday.
All five Irish cueists made it out of the group stages but only two have advanced to the first round proper of the knockouts after disappointing defeats for Stephen Bateman, Aaron Holland, and Aaron Hill.
Bateman and Hill were well fancied before the tournament began after recent positive results domestically but fell to Loris Lehmann and Jan Jelenic respectively, while Holland bowed out against Russia’s Mikhail Terekhov.
Hill thought he had won when he potted the pink in the penultimate frame for an apparent 4-2 victory, only to agonisingly see the cue ball go in-off, going on to lose that frame and the subsequent decider against the Croatian.
Fellow Corkman Ross Bulman, the second seed after the league fixtures, will face Jelenic in the last 32 while North West Snooker Club’s Ronan Whyte will meet Switzerland’s Luis Vetter.
Bulman is widely regarded among Irish circles as the next hot prospect from the country so it will be interesting to see how the 16 year-old can fare towards the business end of the competition.
Meanwhile, European under-18 champion Jackson Page remains in the hunt for a rare double and will be one of the favourites heading into the rest of the tournament.
Fellow Welshmen Tyler Rees and Dylan Emery will be others to look out for while there are also familiar names in Austria’s Florian Nüßle – runner-up to Page in the under-18s – Rodion Judin of Latvia and German Simon Lichtenberg.
England is well represented with Sean Maddocks, Hamim Hussain, and Brandon Sargeant still in the hunt while 18 year-old Shea Moore is flying the flag proudly for Northern Ireland.