Patrick Wallace will become record all-time winner of the N.Ireland snooker title if he retains the title when Cookstown’s Pot Black club hosts the event for the first time.
Dungannon’s former professional player equalled the record of Jack McNally which had lasted more than seventy years when he became champion for a sixth time last year - and he knows he is everybody’s favourite to win it again in the next couple of weeks.
But the man who once played in the quarter-finals of the world championships at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield says there’s immense pressure on him this year because the competition is being played on the tables on which he plays every other week in the East Tyrone League.
“A lot of people are thinking that playing on my ’home’ tables will be a huge advantage, but I should remind them that this is what was said prior to the recent Barry McNamee Memorial Trophy - and that didn’t turn out to be the case!” explained Wallace.
“I think maybe that talk got into my head, but what is actually even more of a leveller is that the marvellous conditions at Pot Black will boost the chances of the many other top players in the tournament.
“With absolutely no disrespect intended to the other clubs which have hosted the tournament in the last few years, they don’t really compare to those at the Cookstown venue where the tables are top class and will provide a chance for the top players to show exactly how good they are” he added, citing his main rivals as four two-time title winners - Jordan Brown, Joe Meara, Dermot McGlinchey as well as Coleraine’s Julian Logue, Newry’s Declan Brennan and Antrim’s Declan Lavery.
Play starts on five tables on Sunday at 10am when the first half of the draw will be whittled down to four players and the same thing will happen on Sunday week, with the seven frames quarter-finals on Monday 20th, nine frames semi-finals on Tuesday 21st and best of nineteen frames final on Saturday 25th in two sessions.
“It’s a great honour for Pot Black to host N.Ireland Championships” said delighted club manager Celestine Loughran.