Snooker: Gervins go top as Pot Black falter

Philip Gribben and Eddie McKenna, Max Keady
Philip Gribben and Eddie McKenna, Max Keady

Gervins A are new leaders in Division One courtesy of a 3-1 win on a night when Pot Black slumped to a surprise defeat in the Cookstown derby.

There’s always great rivalry between the two Cookstown teams, but generally it’s the Burn Road men who come out on the right side. Not so this time.

Club boss Seamus put the hosting Mitchells 1-0 ahead with a 2-0 win over Peter Reilly, winning the first comfortably, then clearing last red to blue in three scoring visits to leave Reilly needing snookers.

Joe Loughran failed to score in the opener against Dermot Loughran, who did damage with a 66 break. Their second frame proved pivotal as Joe potted an exceptional long blue, the cue ball travelling fully 20 feet for position on frame ball pink, having seen his opponent recover from 0-46 to just six behind. Joe then dominated the decider, although he did fluke the penultimate red when 43 ahead with two reds left.

Mickey Quinn pulled one back by beating Frank Loughran 2-0, making breaks of 44 and 47 clearance on the way.

Feargal Keenan lost the first to Patrick Wallace on the second last red, Wallace making breaks of 38 and 41. The Pot Black captain had a run of 48 in the second but inexplicably missed a simple match ball black to the middle, the Mitchell’s man eventually clearing brown to black to pinch the frame and then taking the decider comfortably, thanks in the main to a break of 53.

In the other match, Gervins A defeated McKees A in the Coalisland derby. Due again to the disappointing lack of a matchcard return - which has now cost them £32 in fines, all I know is that Stevie Campbell won the Gortgonis club’s point by defeating Anthony McGuckin in straight frames.

McVeighs A stumbled on their visit to Cookstown to take on Mitchells INF, losing 3-1 to a host team which had a boost by the enforced inclusion of Paddy Doran, who won the opening contest 2-0 against Danny McVeigh.

Ryan Starkey fired a 37 break to beat Jerome McVeigh, John McArdle winning a decider against Gary McNeill on an additional black before Rory Mallon beat Kieran Corr.

It was difficult to understand the logic of Philip Gribben and Eddie McKenna being nominated as the Max Keady A team in Seniors League, the more experienced Joe Shortt and John Maguire bearing the B team mantle. But it seems there was a good reason, the well-handicapped Gribben and McKenna being crowned Division One champions on Wednesday night after a 3-2 home win over Mitchells A. Frank Loughran made 38 to the pink and then won a ten minute black ball battle against McKenna. Gribben made 33 and 56 against Conor Gillespie and a 45cl against Loughran, McKenna easing home against Gillespie before the Cookstown pair won the pairs.

The Keady teams had gone into the last night on level terms, so there was quite an interest in the action in South Armagh. But it was not a night upon whichJoe Shortt and John Maguire will reflect with any fondness as they had what was described by one of them as ‘a nightmare on elm street part 10’, suffering a whitewash at the hands of visiting McKees A, four of the five frames against Owen McKee and Colm Kelly ending on the pink and the other on black.

The big news in Division Two came from south Armagh as well, Max Keady C securing a crucial - if extremely lucky 5-0 win over Mitchells C. Louis McGale needed a snooker on pink against Johnny Smith. Four times he narrowly missed getting it, then fluked one, got the points and fluked pink to win via a hanging black.

In Division Three, leaders McKees C are closing in on the title after a 2-2 draw at home to Mitchells C, while McVeighs moved clear in second spot after a 3-1 win away to Gervins - again no details were received.

Mitchell’s INF wound up a remarkable run in Killyman with a 5-0 walloping which, temporarily at least, scuppered McVeighs A’s runner-up ambitions, that result coupled with the one in Keady gifting Max C a play-off for second spot. Gary McNeill won a re-spotted black to beat John McArdle, in agonising pain as the cueball found a pocket after he potted the black in doubles.

There was mixed luck for Gervins, A men whitewashing off-colour McKees B in Gortgonis, B side losing 4-1 in Killyman against McVeighs B, as Stanley McKeown lost to the unpredictable Pearse Kelly.