Michael Judge held off an impressive fight back from Rodney Goggins to win the Irish National Championship for the second time at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow on Sunday.
The Dubliner edged Goggins, who was looking for a first senior national crown in 18 years, 7-5 in a gripping contest that could have gone either way in the end.
The pair had been the top two ranked competitors going into the Finals weekend so it was fitting that they were indeed the last men standing at the end of the weekend.
Goggins made a lightning start to the final, compiling a break of 100 to win the opening frame, but it was Judge who dominated the first session as he reeled off the next five frames to establish a 5-1 advantage.
The latter required only two more frames from the second session but was made to work extremely hard for them as his opponent launched a fierce comeback.
Goggins took four frames on the bounce to restore parity and appeared set to take the lead at a pivotal point of the showdown, only for Judge to pinch the eleventh frame on the black to move back in front.
A first deciding frame climax since 2000, ironically the year that Goggins emerged victorious with his one and only domestic senior trophy, looked to be on the cards but Judge held firm and sealed the triumph in the next to add to his previous national title win from five years ago.
The result also ensured that the 43 year-old, who knocked in the highest break of the tournament with a terrific 130, finished the Irish amateur campaign as the number one ranked player, winning a brilliant three out of the six tournaments he entered.
The former top 32 ranked player will head to Q School this week in a confident mood as he attempts to regain his place on the Main Tour after a seven-year absence and will be a tough challenge for anybody at the Meadowside Leisure Centre in Burton.
Elsewhere on a busy weekend of snooker in Carlow, several other national titles were decided as the season drew to a close for most players.
The junior trophies were shared around with Stephen Bateman claiming silverware in the under-21 category with runner-up Aaron Hill enjoying glory in both the under-18s and under-16s.
Teenager Ross Bulman defended his under-19 crown after a 4-1 victory over fellow Cork cueist Noel Landers while Sean Walsh and Leone Crowley won the under-14s and under-12s respectively.
In the National Intermediate Championship final, Dylan Rees beat Alan O’Connor 4-1 while Michelle Sherwin won a 15th Ladies title after again overcoming Claire Mill, like in the final twelve months ago.
Goggins’ participation in the Senior final meant that his Masters decider with Johnny Farrell was postponed until next week.
On Saturday, the RIBSA AGM took place with some interesting developments, notably the decision to stage the senior ranking events in different clubs around the country from next season.
More on all of that will be discussed later this week in the return of “Sniper’s Snippets” with 2016 National Championship runner-up Jonathan Williams.
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