Letterkenny top-shots fall at first fence!

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WEEK TWO of fixtures in the 2012 Leo McLaughlin Veterans’ Snooker Pairs Tournament, promoted and hosted by Brandywell’s Over-the-Hill Sports & Social Club, delivered mixed fortunes for Letterkenny’s double representation.

Pat Bonner & Neil Gallagher, second favourites in the imaginary ante-post market, booked their second-round ticket, but Ken Kirwan & Don Ponsonby, third-best in the betting, took an unexpected tumble at the first fence.

A rather ignominious early exit for the CYMS sharp-shooter (scr), forced to throw in the towel on the brown against title outsiders Willie McGahey & Matt McBay (+18). A laudable victory for the Mailey’s Bar duo, courtesy of McBay’s potent potting and McGahey’s effective safety (75-36).

Liam Doherty & Eddie McColgan (+3), the best bet for a ‘home club’ conquest, launched their challenge by beating Mailey’s Bar Liam Rigney & Danny Rigney (+8). A case of favouritism confirmed, although not as comfortable as the 49-25 scoreline tends to indicate, the Rigney brothers fluffing a good chance on the last four colours to make matters very interesting in the finishing straight.

Waterside’s Shaun McLaughlin & Paul Parry (+8) prevailed in an entertaining encounter with Rosemount’s Michael McDermott & Charlie McCallion (+2), the Cnoc cuemen putting up a good show before bowing out on the pink (63-53). All eyes were on comeback kid Paul Parry, a former Welsh snooker international (so he says), who showed flashes of his old ability (albeit still somewhat ring-rusty).

Creggan’s Paul Meenan & Don Brown (+25) pipped the host club’s Mickey Donaghey & Paddy Hasson (+25) in a photo-finish, another enjoyable tussle between two evenly-matched pairs, culminating with Hasson’s in-off on the final black (42-37).

Pilot’s Row’s Tommy Coogan & Malachy Williamson (+10) opened up an early 30-point lead against Hugh McCafferty & Donal Kelly (+18) and although the George’s Bar duo fought back (just three points adrift on the last three colours), McCafferty failed to hit an ‘on’ blue. An inexplicable and expensive miss, as Williamson brought a marathon 90-minute duel to its conclusion by potting blue and pink - rubbing salt in the wound by ‘fluking’ the penultimate ball (81-62).

Oak Grove’s Paddy McGlinchey & Paul Ramsey (+13) defeated Creggan’s better-fancied John Carlin & Gerry Canning (+10) without undue difficulty (74-38), with newcomer McGlinchey making an eye-catching debut and, judging on this form, may well prove leniently handicapped (+20). As usual, time will tell.

Golf Club’s Len Donnelly & Jack Johnston (+10) edged out Pilot’s Row’s Chris Wright & Matt McLaughlin (+15), with Johnston and Wright playing the anchor roles for their respective partnerships. The Bogsiders came from 15 points behind on the last red to nudge into a two-point lead with three colours remaining, but their recovery proved in vain when Johnston sank blue and pink (60-51).

Shantallow’s John O’Hagan & Seamus Fleming (+13) beat Creggan’s Frankie Carlin & Sonsie McGlinchey (+20) in a one-sided contest (68-25), while another Racecourse Road pair to ease their way into round two were Joe Sims & Tony McCallion (+5), the 63-24 winners at the expense of Oak Grove’s Kevin McMenamin & Sean McDaid (+3).

The match between AOH Club’s Tommy Cooke & Terry Slevin and Oak Grove’s Andy Quigley & Dermot Connor was not played owing to an oversight in my part, as I failed to include the Oak pair in last Tuesday’s fixture schedule. Sincere apologies to Tommy and Terry for the inconvenience caused.

And finally, with the first-round action now almost done and dusted, the star of the Brandywell show thus far has been Tommy McGlinchey, courtesy of a master-class exhibition of safety tactics which earned him a deserving standing ovation, not to mention handshakes, pats on the back and autograph requests.

Incidentally, last Tuesday’s edition of the ‘Journal’ was sold out much earlier than usual in the Top of the Hill area. And given the snooker notes highlighted McGlinchey’s exhilarating display, it looks a fair bet the ‘prime purchaser’ was the Chapel Road potter.

THE BETTING - Andy Quigley & Dermot Connor, yet to enter the fray, remain solid 2/1 ‘jollies’, followed by Pat Bonner & Neil Gallagher (4/1), Paddy Harkin & Alan Healy (5/1) and market-movers Liam Doherty & Eddie McColgan (11/2 from 8/1).

Hugh Duffy & John McDaid, bidding to become the first successful defenders in the tournament’s 15-year-old history, trade at 6/1 to buck the trend, while Eddie Friel & Martin Moore, runners-up last year, are 7/1 shots to redress the balance.

Other prices - Willie Hamilton & Martin Mooney (8/1), Liam Lynch & Billy Tyson (9/1), Tony McCallion & Joe Sims (10/1), John Doran & Kevin Doran and Tommy Coogan & Malachy Williamson (11/1) It’s 12/1 bar.

TONIGHT’S MATCHES - Johnny Shiels & Mickey Gillespie, Oak Grove (+15) v Robbie Kennelly & Maurice Quigg, City of Derry GC (+10), at 7 p.m.; Tommy Cooke & Terry Slevin, AOH (+10) v Andy Quigley & Dermot Connor, Oak Grove (scr), at 7-30 p.m.; Len Donnelly & Jack Johnston, City of Derry GC (+10) v Shaun McLaughlin & Paul Parry, St. Pat’s (+8), at 7-30 p.m.; Louis McKinney & Mickey McLaughlin, Cnoc-Na-Ros (+15) v Shaun Murphy & Joe McCarron, George’s (+10), at 8 p.m.; Noel McCann & George Kelly, St. Pat’s (+5) v Paddy Kerr & Sean McGlinchey, George’s (+15), at 8 p.m.; Charlie O’Connell & John O’Connell, Cnoc-Na-Ros (+8) v Liam Healy & John Deehan, Over-the-Hill (+5), at 8-30 p.m.; Drew Stevenson & Billy McDaid, Cnoc-Na-Ros (+20) v Joel Doherty & Partner, Over-the-Hill (?), at 8-30 p.m.

THURSDAY NIGHT - Martin Moore & Eddie Friel, Creggan (+5) v Phil Curran & Joe Shiels. Mailey’s (+13), at 7-30 p.m.; John McDaid & Hugo Duffy, AOH (+3) v Joe Sims & Tony McCallion, Shantallow (+5), at 7-30 p.m.; Neil Gallagher & Pat Bonner, Letterkenny (scr) v Bobby Kelly & Don Meenan, Shantallow (+5), at 8 p.m.; Willie McGahey & Matt McBay, Mailey’s (+18) v George Browne & Sammy Doherty, Over-the-Hill (+10), at 8 p.m.; Paul Meenan & Don Brown, Creggan (+25) v Billy Tyson & Liam Lynch, Over-the-Hill (+5), at 8-30 p.m.; John Campbell & Patsy Doherty, Cnoc-Na-Ros (+10) v John Doran & Kevin Doran, Du Pont (+5), at 8-30 p.m.

NEXT TUESDAY - Eddie Tunney & Brian Parsons, Over-the-Hill (+30) v Paddy McGlinchey & Paul Ramsey, Oak Grove (+13), at 7-30 p.m.; Louis McKinney & Mickey McLaughlin (+15) or Shaun Murphy & Joe McCarron (+10) v Myles McDonald & Billy Gallagher, Over-the-Hill (+15), at 7-30 p.m.; Martin Smyth & Don O’Doherty, AOH (+8) v John Campbell & Patsy Doherty (+10) or John Doran & Kevin Doran (+5), at 8 p.m.; Dan Shiels & Patsy Gillespie, Mailey’s (+13) v John O’Hagan & Seamus Fleming, Shantallow (+13), at 8 p.m.

THURSDAY 4th OCTOBER - Johnny Shiels & Mickey Gillespie or Robbie Kennelly & Maurice Quigg v Tommy Cooke & Terry Slevin or Andy Quigley & Dermot Connor, at 7-30 p.m.; Alan Healy & Paddy Harkin, Pilot’s Row (+3) v Martin Mooney & Willie Hamilton, AOH (+5), at 7-30 p.m.; Drew Stevenson & Billy McDaid or Joel Doherty & Partner v Tommy Coogan & Malachy Williamson, Pilot’s Row (+10), at 8 p.m.; Liam Doherty & Eddie McColgan, Over-the-Hill (+3) v Mickey McCusker & Stevie McCormick, George’s Bar (+15), at 8 p.m.