the premier cup
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Sniper’s Snippets: The Premier Cup

Brendan O’Donoghue won the fourth ranking event of the Irish amateur season last weekend with victory in the Premier Cup in Cork.

By Jonathan Williams

I’m not going to sugarcoat this event as for me it was a bit of a disaster. I got married the week before and as you can imagine there was zero practice done. It showed.

I was 2-0 up against young Leon Crowley without making a 20 break, it was horrible. The table I played on was not only incredibly slow but the pockets were so tight – too tight in my opinion. Both myself and Leon struggled big time.

Fair play to him, though, for holding it together and coming back to win 3-2 as I thought his head would have dropped and I would win easily after being two frames up. I commend him for that. I don’t blame luck a lot but he got his lion’s share, which he took well. I didn’t even bottle it this time, I just played awful. Leon did too, but he was just less awful than me.

To be honest, I was gonna skip my piece this time around as I felt a little embarrassed with how I played but, without a doubt, the biggest shock of the event came when I saw Leon went on to beat Rodney Goggins. With absolutely no disrespect meant, I thought Rodney would have won that match 3-0 with ease as Leon was not playing well.

Rodney has way more experience and is in great form at the moment. I would go as far to say for me, it’s the shock of the season thus far. Fair play to young Leon as to beat Rodney in a decider is incredible.

Anyway, moving on to some notable results in the Premier Cup that I only saw online as I was in no form to stick around at the venue. In the last 32, there were good wins for Stephen Bateman over local hotshot David Cassidy. On his day, Cassidy is a class act and that was a tricky tie for both.

Another Bateman and another great win for journeyman James, who beat another local fan favourite in Ross Bulman. Bulman, on paper, would have been the favourite before that match I’m sure. James is a very solid, sticky player for anyone to get. He doesn’t do a lot wrong.

In the last 16, I have already mentioned Leon’s win over Rodney. A great confidence booster for the young chap going forward. There was also a very good win for Philip “The Finisher” Browne over John Sutton, a tight encounter that went to a decider. Philly is continuing his improvement in form this season.

At the business end there were no real surprises. Davy Morris and Greg Casey recorded deciding frame victories over Ryan Cronin and Philip Browne respectively in the quarter-finals. Then, Morris tasted defeat in the same manner when Brendan O’Donoghue pipped him 4-3 in the last four.

The final then was between O’Donoghue and young Aaron Hill, which again looked like a nail-biter that also finished 4-3. However, there is nobody better than O’Donoghue in deciding frames. He has a great temperament and lots of bottle, it helps also that he has a lovely compact cue action to go along with the rest of his attributes in times of pressure.

Congrats again to Brendan on his win in the Premier Cup and on extending his lead at the top of the all-time senior ranking event wins. He also won the Barracks Classic earlier in the season. The record for most wins is great accolade to have.

I spoke to Brendan afterwards, who obviously had a much better experience than I had in the Crucible that weekend. I was saying I struggled big time with the pace of the tables and how tight they played, not to mention the lack of room walking around them. He did admit they played slow and tight early on but got better as the day went on.

To quote Brendan, he said: “It was great to see club manager Davy Joyce brushing and ironing tables during the tournament and doing them properly and to a very high standard. You don’t always get that. Lads just block the table and think it’s grand. Joycie took time to brush and iron tables all day. It made a big difference from the last eight onward.”

Just something else to note was the fact that Aaron Hill narrowly missed a maximum break, coming up short on the last pink. I don’t know what table he played on but, considering I couldn’t make 20 and was petrified by the corner pockets, this was a great achievement. I think Greg Casey has made many maximum breaks down there which is again, some achievement on tables I consider to be very tight.

Last but not least, I got wind that on the same weekend as the Premier Cup, there was also a World Snooker Federation competition being held in Malta. Now this event has pro cards attached but I saw absolutely no publicity for this event on any of RIBSA’s social media outlets.

In my opinion, our national body should not only be publicising this but encouraging our youngsters to take parts in these events. I’d even go as far to say as they should be paying for their entries, hotels fees, and other expenses.

These lads have aspirations of becoming pro and should have been at this event rather than a senior ranking event in my opinion. The lads who went from Ireland, middle of the road players they wont mind me saying, had a great experience over there and maintained some of our top players could have went very far.

It’s all very perplexing to say the least. The hotel and flights were cheap too. Maybe I don’t know the full story but ten years ago I would have been on the first plane over there.

Until next time, Sniper over and out.

Click here to view the Premier Cup draw.

Photo credit: PJ Nolan

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