GERALD McCLOSKEY, a 50-year-old potter with a well-preserved game, bridged an eight-year gap to pay his second visit to North-West snooker’s iconic victory rostrum, thanks to a 4-3 verdict over Letterkenny’s Gareth Kirwan when the pair opposed in the 2016 final of the Hugh Brady (Snr) Senior Championship, held last Friday night at Shantallow House.
The sizeable audience were treated to an entertaining game of snooker, highlighted by a laudable-back-to-the-wall reaction and an excellent title-winning break. Kirwan recovered from 3-0 down, only to see his valiant effort prove all in vain when the Tracey’s Bar southpaw took the deciding frame in sublime style.
The opening frame, the only evenly-contested of the match, saw the combatants trade small double-figure runs. Neck-and-neck on the last red, McCloskey edged into a 13-point lead on the last three colours, Kirwan took the blue, before the Tracey’s Bar man pocketed he pink to strike the first blow (60-46).
McCloskey dominated the next two frames, posting breaks of 30 and 42 in the second (83-13) and a 36 sequence in the third (67-10). Suffice the say, the Letterkenny potter was in deep trouble, but his reply to the dire situation was affirmative. Benefiting from more table time than in the previous two frames, he reduced the deficit to 3-2 (72-42 and 78-43). He evened up the scores when, anchored by his best-match break of 40, he condemned his opponent ‘pointless’ in frame six (86-0).
Both protagonists were doubtless feeling the pressure as they faced the heat of the shoot-out furnace, not least McCloskey (removed from his 3-0 comfort zone). But the Tracey’s Bar cueist, a tough competitor seasoned by a wealth of experience, responded to the mettle-tester in characteristic fashion.
The CYMS potter put the first points on the board (11-0), went back to his seat and there he remained as McCloskey put the title to bed with a coup de grace 88 compilation ((new record for the final). In fact, he looked fair set for a benchmark century, only to lose position with an unfortunate ‘kick’ after potting the second last red.
The NWIASA committee are indebted to the Brady family (sponsors) and Shantallow House (hosts), together with all the referees and markers for officiating throughout the Championship.