Michael Judge held on to beat TJ Dowling 4-3 in the held over final of the Douglas Jewellers Irish Masters in Fairview Snooker Club on Friday night.
After three-time national champion Dowling took the opening frame with a break of 76, Judge excellently responded with a 102 century break to level before adding the next two frames to establish a 3-1 advantage.
Dowling fought back with a run of 45 to get to within just one frame and duly forced the decider by snatching a close sixth frame on the colours.
However, Judge knocked in a timely 81 at the end to claim the fifth RIBSA ranking event of the campaign.
In doing so, the Dubliner moves back to the top of the Irish rankings list for this season with this success adding to his previous triumph in the Barracks Classic.
That the former professional missed event three shows the kind of form that he has been demonstrating in the last few months overall, having made three finals out of the four senior events he’s contested, while the 43 year-old has also won twice on the masters circuit this term as well.
The Irish Masters actually began two weeks ago in the Ivy Rooms in Carlow with Judge, at the time, coming through a succession of close battles with Ross Bulman, David Morris, and Greg Casey to reach the final.
Dowling counted the ever improving teenager Aaron Hill among the players he overcame, with the latter reaching the semi-finals of a ranking event for the second successive tournament.
It was disappointing, though, that it took the best part of a fortnight for the event to be completed and the final showdown to take place.
RIBSA, under the pressure of the players, took the decision to try something new in an effort to properly separate the senior and masters events, which generally run on Saturdays and Sundays respectively.
The governing body’s efforts to welcome new ideas should be noted, but after a trial period it should be established whether or not this is really a suitable way to organise tournaments going forward.
The Irish Masters didn’t even begin and end in the same venue, which is unusual to say the least, and one would wonder if these kinds of delays are going to do anything to help promote the game in the country.
The current format will likely be used for the remainder of this campaign, with only one event to go before the National Championship in April and May, but perhaps the thinking hats will need to be put on ahead of next season in an effort to better accommodate these tournaments on the calendar.