THE LATEST results and forthcoming fixtures in the 2016 renewals of the North-West Snooker Championships, starting with last week’s third round action in the Hugh Brady (Snr) Senior Championship flagship event.
The line-up for the seven-match programme included the title-winning trio of Stephen Brady (defender), Maurice Ferguson (2011) and Gerald McCloskey (2008). And, as anticipated, Ferguson and McCloskey advanced to the quarter-final stage at the expense of junior-graded opposition. The Glendermott potter eased past AOH veteran Ray Barrow in straight frames (66-21 and 75-29), while McCloskey highlighted his 2-1 verdict over Limavady’s Dean McAleese with a 56 compilation in frame one (95-14, 21-51 and 63-16).
However, Brady’s hopes of retaining the title evaporated against Anthony McGill, a dethronement which was no big deal given the Tracey’s Bar cueist is up there with the best of them. Brady prevailed in a close opening frame, but McGill, assisted by breaks of 49 (second) and 31 (third), took the remaining two frames by snug margins (52-64, 77-16 and 59-22).
Waterside’s Steve Weekes, who claims the select scalp of last year’s runner-up in the previous round (Peter Doherty), ought to have made further progress, only to bow out 2-1 against Gareth Kirwan after contributing heavily to his own downfall in the shoot-out frame. He fluffed an easy pot on the last red when 21 point ahead and eventually paid the penalty in a black ball photo-finish (24-55, 82-29 and 52-50).
Harry Logan belied his lower-graded status to dispatch Oak’s wildly inconsistent Paul Donaghy (41-27 and 69-35)... Adrian McFadden beat Hollywood’s Stephen Heaney (56-37 and 60-39)... Paul Keenan won 2-1 against Du Pont’s Ralph Dixon (50-29, 51-60 and 54-20).
ALFIE McGINLEY LEAGUE – The eight players who passed the qualifying examinations resume action stations at Shantallow House next Monday night for the quarter-final knockout play-offs.
The host club’s Peter Doherty, first past the post in the preps, is rated an odds-on shot to see off Adrian McFadden (eighth-best in the qualifiers). That said, the Letterkenny intermediate-graded player is one of the top break-builders outside the game’s elite and certainly good enough to merit consideration as a potential ‘banana skin’ to Doherty’s aspirations of a record-equalling fourth title (and three-in-a-row).
Stephen Brady (2) is down to play Letterkenny’s Chris Gibbons (7), a twice winner of this event (2003-08), but somewhat shy of his that sort of form in recent times. And if Brady is none the worse for his Senior Championship dethronement, he seems likely to have too much firepower for his treble-seeking opponent.
Joe Porter (3), another player from the intermediate ranks to reach the play-offs, bids for further progress at the expense of Phelim McClafferty (6), the third Letterkenny flag-bearer in the quarter-final line-up. Although the CYMS cueist has bags of talent, he is pretty much an in-and-out performer and would need to show up on his best behaviour to enable him to combat the potent potting Shantallow man on his preferred surface.
Phil McConomy’s fourth finish in the preps is something of a revelation performance for a junior-rated contender with plenty of miles on the clock (without any notable success). While the tournament surprise-packet will most probably find dual champion Gerald McCloskey (5) a bridge too far, his excellent qualification effort has added belated enhancement to his profile as a player of some merit.
The Pairs – The title hunt moves up a gear next Sunday afternoon at Tracey’s Bar (quarter-finals), the double-acts of Gerald McCloskey/Anthony McGill (defenders), Davy Clifford/Maurice Ferguson (2011 kingpins), Peter Doherty/Joe Porter and Gareth Kirwan/Adrian McFadden all rated firm favourites to book tickets to the penultimate stage.
The Intermediate – Ralph Dixon defeated Alan Healy (Tracey’s) 2-0 to progress to the semi-final... Joe Porter advanced to the last eight in good style, decorating his emphatic victory over Shantallow stablemate Joe Sims with breaks of 34 and 45 in frame two (57-8 and 102-7).
The Junior – Last Wednesday night’s triple-bill of quarter-finals delivered victories for Sean Paul McCauley (Dolan’s), Dean McAleese (Limavady) and Phil McConomy (Tracey’s), with the Gael recovering from losing the opening frame for a good victory over Prehen’s formidable Kevin Quigq (42-53, 62-42 and 68-44).
McConomy beat Oak’s Cathal Wilson in comfortable fashion (61-31 and 58-32)... McAleese ended the eye-catching run of Christopher Clifford (63-31 and 55-4). The 14-year-old Glendermott youngster, who showed bags of promise en route to this stage, found the intimidating quarter-final atmosphere too much to handle at this stage of his embryonic career.
NEXT SUNDAY – Dungloe Pairs Quarter-finals – Martin Moore & Shea Moore (AOH) v Gerald McCloskey & Anthony McGill (Tracey’s), at 2 pm; Peter Doherty & Joe Porter (Shantallow) v Stephen Heaney & Richard Long (Hollywood), at 2 pm; Eddie McColgan & Martin Young (OTH) v Davy Clifford & Maurice Ferguson (Glendermott), at 3 pm; Phil Porter & Joe Sims (Shantallow) v Gareth Kirwan & Adrian McFadden (Letterkenny) or David Bishop & Trevor McDermott (Glendermott), at 3 pm... Hosted by Tracey’s Bar, the referees are Seamus Gallagher and Harry Logan.
NEXT MONDAY – Alfie McGinley League Play-off Quarter-finals – Peter Doherty (Shantallow) v Adrian McFadden (Letterkenny), at 7-30 pm; Stephen Brady (Oak) v Chris Gibbons (Letterkenny), at 7-30 pm; Joe Porter (Shantallow) v Phelim McClafferty (Letterkenny), at 8-30 pm; Phil McConomy (Tracey’s) v Gerald McCloskey (Tracey’s), at 8-30 pm... Hosted by Shantallow House, the referees are Seamus Gallagher and Joe Sims.
The semi-finals of the Junior Championship are down for decision at Shantallow House on Wednesday week (27th April) – Sean P. McCauley v Dean McAleese and Phil McConomy v Liam McDermott or Colm Hamilton (7-45 pm break-offs).
The semi-finals of the Mick O’Reilly Intermediate Championship to be played at Tracey’s Bar on Thursday week (28th April) – Ralph Dixon v Phil McConomy or Joe Porter and Maurice Ferguson or Shea Norris v Barry McDaid or Steve Weekes (7-30 pm).
*All matches best-of-three frames.