McKees B men go down after a valiant effort

John Hagan and James Conway, McKees B - beaten finalists in Seniors Knockout Cup
John Hagan and James Conway, McKees B - beaten finalists in Seniors Knockout Cup

There’s widespread acceptance that the format for seniors knockout cup is the best of any across the spectrum of East Tyrone Snooker League and, the RTM Mortgage Services event final proved exactly why that should be the case.

The contest between McKees B and Max Keady A went down to the wire before the deposed Division One league champions gained a huge dollop of consolation - and, on the balance of the night’s action, they just about deserved to edge the verdict.

That said, one would definitely have to spare a thought or two for the Gortgonis men, because they did well to even get to the starting line because Oliver O’Neill, who had played a big part in getting them to the decider, had to cry off at the eleven hour and was actually in a hospital bed minutes after the play got under way.

Just an hour and ten minutes before start-time John Hagan, who had started the begun the season as O’Neill’s cohort but had to opt out for personal reasons, answered the call to arms and lined out alongside his original replacement, James Conway.

And they gelled together well, winning the first doubles game thanks mainly to a well-crafted 42 break.

Conway was then on the receiving end as Philip Gribben showed an abundance of skill in compiling a 56 break to keep the Keady on course, since Hagan made breaks of 22 and 29 in easing to victory against Eddie McKenna.

The second doubles tie was the only scrappy frame of the seven, the Max duo recovering from 35-15 to win by sixteen as the only further score for the McKees pair was four points from a penalty forfeit.

Conway found his winning form as he cruised home against McKenna, while a splendid 55 break got Gribben home with plenty to spare against Hagan, the outcome now resting on the concluding doubles clash.

That may have been new territory in this competition for the Coalisland men, but it was par for the course for the south Armagh cue men as they won their previous two encounters in the tie-break four-hander.

And McKenna made amends for his singles losses when he conjured up a 20 break from absolutely nothing on his first visit to lay the foundations for the victory, Gribben then doing his bit to turn the screw on the Tyrone men.