THIS WEEK’S prime-time slot in North-West competitive snooker is reserved for tonight’s Junior Knockout Cup final, the protagonists being Sean Dolan’s GAC ‘A’ and Shantallow House ‘C’, with Oak Grove providing the venue for the occasion.
The Gaels ply their snooker trade amongst the big battalions of League Division One (with distinction), whereas the Racecourse Road team compete against the light artillery of Division Two (with little impact), so tonight’s final does look an open-and-shut case for the forecast jury.
Granted, the Shantallow third-teamers are entitled to draw encouragement from disposing of the elite Oak Grove ‘A’ team en-route to this stage. That result aside, however, the form of the pair are poles apart and it would be a major surprise if the Piggery Ridge outfit failed to confirm short-priced favouritism.
Teams - Sean Dolan’s ‘A’ select from Charlie Casey (+20), Gavin Gallagher (+25), Mickey Kelly (+25), Sean P. McCauley (+25), Jim McLaughlin (+25) and Kevin McMenamin (+30), while Shantallow ‘C’ rely on Paul McCallion (+25), Michael Cairns (+30), Danny Harrigan (+30), Phil Porter (+30) and Willie Robinson (+30).
Route to Final - Sean Dolan’s ‘A’ (first-round bye) defeated Riversiders 3-0 in the quarter-finals at Altnafoyle, before securing their place in the decider by beating Letterkenny’s CYMS Youths 3-2 (at AOH Club).
Shantallow ‘C’ battled back from 2-0 down to defeat Oak Grove ‘D’ 3-2 when the pair met in round one at the Bishop Street bar. A shock 3-2 home victory over the Oak Grove ‘A’ was followed by a 3-2 semi-final win against Letterkenny’s North West SC (at Oak Grove).
FACTFILE - First held in 1945, competition went into cold storage after the 1946 renewal, and there it remained until revived in 1983.
Seventeen clubs have won the Junior Cup, including Shantallow House, chasing a record fifth victory, and Sean Dolan’s GAC, the 2009 winners and set to contest the final for the third year on the bounce.
Roll-of-Honour - PWMI (1945), CIMC (1946), St. Pat’s-Strabane (1983-88-95-04), Chariot Inn (1984), AOH (1985-92-96-03), Shantallow House (1986-07-08-10), Strand SC (1987), Ulsterbus (1989-90), Bogside Inn (1991), Pot Black (1993), Molins SC (1994-99), GPO (1997-02), Greene’s Bar (1998), Strabane GC (2000), Oak Grove (2001-06), Du Pont SC (2005) and Sean Dolan’s GAC (2009).
Medal Credits - Jim McLaughlin (1986), Charlie Casey (1991-09), Phil Porter (1992-96), Paul McCallion (2007-08), Gavin Gallagher (2009), Mickey Kelly (2009), Sean P. McCauley (2009) and Kevin McMenamin (2009).
Record Breakers - Chris Clarke’s 77 during a quarter-final tie at Molins SC in 1999 remains the Junior Cup’s highest compilation, while John Blee’s 46 at Oak Grove in 2003 sets the standard for the final.
TONIGHT - The Final - Sean Dolan’s GAC ‘A’ v Shantallow House ‘C’, at Oak Grove, 7-30 p.m. (formal dress). Match officials are Seamus Gallagher, Joe Sims and John Clifford.