It may only be five weeks into the new Mid Ulster Snooker season but the early form of the nine teams involved suggests that we are in for a grandstand finish as four points separate six teams.
Swa Men lead the way but they have played a game more than their nearest competitors that currently occupy joint second place in the league table.
Defending Champions St Pat’s A have made a slow start to the campaign and find themselves a few points adrift of the leading teams, although at an early stage they will be looking to close the gap within the next few weeks or they could well and truly be out of contention before the end of the first half.
The Magherafelt side entertained the high flying Crocknamohill and in a highly entertaining encounter it ended with honours even. Brian Milne Jnr gained revenge for a recent Individual defeat over Gerry Mc Auley as he cleared with a break of 41 to win the opening frame on the black. The second frame was a tactical affair but a timely break of 65 secured the frame for Milne. Dermot Mc Auley was making a rare appearance and showed what the visitors has been missing so far this season as he overcome the formidable Colin Reid in convincing fashion.
As luck would have it Jason Cushenan had the opportunity to take on childhood hero Frankie Trolan in the last match of the evening and it was fitting that both players claimed a frame to leave the final score 3-3.
“I used to reside in Draperstown and there wasn’t a person in the town that wasn’t aware of the brilliant Frankie Trolan on a snooker table. I used to watch the man practice so to get an opportunity to play him in a competitive match was something of a dream come true” claimed Cushenan.
St Pat’s C travelled to Longfield and as usual they came away with little to show for their efforts. The Bullet is always the launching pad for a ‘C’ team victory but when he tasted defeat against Marty O’Hagan the whitewash was very much on the cards.
Seamus Kane continued his recent good form and no doubt Kane’s handicap will come under scrutiny at the half way stage as a result. With the score 4-0 on favour of Longfield it was left to Damien Craig to try and deny the dreaded whitewash. Noel Mc Allister was showing no sympathy as deservedly took the opening frame with the minimum of fuss. Craig responded in the next and deserves alot of credit for helping his team avoid the whitewash.
“Last week I got a few pointers from my mate Mickey Quinn and my improved stance and cue action has made the game that little bit easier. On that note, I would like to wish Mickey and the boys all the best for the Killarney now that they have qualified. I am not so sure our boys will get down this year so I am jumping ship to Mickey and Pot Black,” claimed Craig.
Swa Men travelled to Pot Black and with having played a game more they knew a win was imperative. Mark Doherty gave them a dream start as he defeated John Halferty in a repeat of the recent quarter final match of the individual championship, coincidentally Halferty came out on top in that match.
Mickey Quinn then shared frames with the ever improving Seamus Lagan and when Peter Reilly could only manage a draw with Martin Mc Larnon the match ended 4-2 in favour of the Swa Men.
St Pat’s B entertained Pot Black B and will be disappointed to only secure a draw following a recent run of good results. Enda Mc Cusker claimed both frames against Conor Gillespie with Mc Cusker hitting a top break of 15 along the way.
Paul Currie took both frames against Kieran Cassidy to level matters. Sean Doyle then shared frames with young Feargal Quinn to leave the match at 3-3 although with abit of luck for either side they could have claimed a vital win.
The Handicap Individual Championships has been taking place over the last few weeks and the Semi Final lineups are now complete. A few new faces make up the last four but it is the experienced campaigner in the last four that will be firm favourite to lift the trophy.
Mickey Quinn has years of experience and he has made the Semi Finals were he will meet the maverick that is Kevin Murray. The other Semi Final will see the returning John Halferty come head to head with Jordan Shivers in what is sure to be an intriguing encounter.