Blee pots century break at Strabane

LAST WEEK’S concluding round of qualifying fixtures in the North-West Premier Snooker League saw Letterkenny’s North West SC and CYMS ‘A’ seal group supremacy, the reward for which is home advantage in the knockout play-offs (final excepted).

The North West club pipped compatriots CYMS ‘B’ for Group One’s top spot. Claudy Cueists finished a close third, with AOH ‘A’ qualifying in fourth place

CYMS ‘A’ boasted a 12-match unbeaten record en route to topping Group Two. Du Pont SC finished second with St. Pat’s (Strabane) and Oak Grove taking the group’s third and fourth play-off berths.

Group One Results - CYMS ‘B’ entered the finishing straight with a share of the leadership but, despite a good 3-3 draw on their trip to third-placed Claudy Cueists, they had to settle for second best in the group’s pecking order.

The CYMS ‘reserves’ lost out in a photo-finish to compatriots North West SC, whose 4-2 home verdict over GPO Select proved sufficient enough to seal group supremacy by the minimum one-point margin.

Fast-finishing Shantallow House ‘A’ romped home 6-0 against visiting Pot Black, but narrowly missed the ‘cut’, a single adrift of AOH ‘A’, whose 3-3 draw with Maxibreak at the Foyle Street rooms removed the mathematical doubt for the group’s fourth play-off spot.

NORTH WEST 4, GPO 2 - Paul McGinley 1, Phil Curran 1; Aidan Devenney 2, Liam Lynch 0; Gerry McKeever 1, Seamus Cusack 1.

CLAUDY 3, CYMS ‘B’ 3 - Jan Biernat 0, Anthony McGill 2; Steve Weekes 1, Christopher Gibbons 1; Paul Donaghy 2, Adrian McFadden 0.

AOH ‘A’ 3, MAXIBREAK 3 - Kevin Kelly 1, Maurice Ferguson 1; Kevin Concannon 2 (44 break), Damien Tracey 0; Raymond Barrow 0, Simon Cooke 2.

SHANTALLOW ‘A’ 6, POT BLACK 0 - Joe Porter 2, Malachy McIvor 0; Harry Logan 2, Pius Fenlon 0; Peter Doherty 2 (36 break), Derek Riddles 0.

Group Two - CYMS ‘A’, who merely needed to avoid defeat in their home outing against lowly AOH ‘B’ to top the group, signed off with a 4-2 win. Considering they slumped to 6-0 defeats in their previous two starts, this was a respectable result for the Hibs, thanks to Ciaran Kelly and super-sub Sean Ferry (snr), who won a frame apiece.

Indeed, Ferry’s laudable share of the frames against reigning NW Senior Champion, Johnny Connors, denied the Letterkenny hotshot a test match for the group’s top play-off place in the Burke Individual Trophy.

Du Pont and St. Pat’s (Strabane) secured the second and third qualifying spots, courtesy of 6-0 home victories over Oak Grove and Shantallow ‘B’ respectively. A brace of results that relegated the ‘Oaks’ from third to fourth in the group pecking order for the play-offs, as well as dashing the Racecourse Road team’s hopes of surviving the preps.

And finally - Damien Blee was the scene-stealer in last week’s finishing straight. The multitalented Strabane potter played ‘tv snooker’ in the first frame of his 2-0 win, having followed up a break of 34 with a super century sequence (104 clearance).

The high point of Blee’s ‘ton’ was a daring pot of the brown, played with deep screw, to shift a tight-to-the-cushion blue into a pottable position. A masterstroke which, according to a hugely impressed Keith Shiels (member of the vanquished Shantallow side), made any nomination of BBC Television’s ‘Shot of the Championship’ look like child’s play!

CYMS ‘A’ 4, AOH ‘B’ 2 - Paul Doherty 1 (39, 38 and 30 breaks), Ciaran Kelly 1; Johnny Connors 1, Sean Ferry (snr) 1; Phelim McClafferty 2, Eamon Kelly 0.

DU PONT 6, OAK GROVE 0 - Gerald McCloskey 2, Kevin McKinney 0; Emmett Casson 2, Liam Kelly 0; Mickey McGowan 2, Shay Norris 0.

STRABANE 6, SHANTALLOW ‘B’ 0 - Glenn Roulston 2, Keith Shiels 0; Patrick McCrossan 2 (39 break), Pete Murphy 0; Damien Blee 2 (104 clearance), Cyril Ming 0.

HOW THEY FINISHED - Group One - played 84 frames - North West 55 pts; CYMS B 54 pts; Claudy 53 pts; AOH A 45 pts; Shantallow A 44 pts; Maxibreak 41 pts, GPO 31 pts; Pot Black 13 pts.

Group Two - played 72 frames - CYMS A 50 pts; Du Pont 48 pts; Strabane 43 pts; Oak Grove 39 pts; Strabane 43 pts; Shantallow B 37 pts; AOH B 23 pts; CYMS C 12 pts.

Play-off Draws - 1. North West SC (Group One winners) v Oak Grove (Group Two fourth), at Letterkenny NW; 2. Du Pont (Group Two runners-up) v Claudy Cueists (Group One third), at Du Pont SC; 3. CYMS ‘A’ (Group Two winners) v AOH ‘A’ (Group One fourth), at Letterkenny CYMS; 4, CYMS ‘B’ (Group One runners-up) v St. Pat’s-Strabane (Group Two third), at Letterkenny CYMS.

Semi-Finals - home advantage for highest group finishers - (1 v 2) and (3 v 4).

* Quarter-finals played on Monday week (28th February).