It will be crunch time for the Mitchells B team on Tuesday night when the Cookstown team return from their exploits against the cream of snooker talent across the island to resume the bread and butter quest for glory.
In the guise of Magherafelt St.Patricks, their alter ego, the Cookstown team was participating in the All-Ireland Club Championships and they will have returned to discover that, their absence, the new leaders of Division One - Max Keady A - had beaten Mitchells B 3-0 to move four points clear of the former table-toppers.
The league rules dictate that the Ardcumber Road men were obliged to have fulfilled their fixture with Gervins A before departing for Killarney, but they have escaped punishment because of mitigating circumstances. They thought they had made arrangements to play the match last Monday night, but the promise became null and void since the agreement of the club boss seemingly fell foul of alternative plans made by the team captain. This information came to light too late to come up with another option.
Now there will certainly be even more pressure on the Mitchells team.
In South Armagh, their A team pals tried their best to do them a favour but could not halt the great league run of Max Keady A, Mark Nugent recovering from a 39 break first frame loss to Joe Loughran, to fire two breaks of 38 and take the lead before runs of 28 and 24 in frame four secured the win. A 52 set up a hard-earned 3-2 win for Stevie McParland against Feargal Keenan who twice came back to level before sucuumbing 83-50 in the decider. Barry Hughes had breaks of 60 and 40 in seeing off a gritty Frank Loughran.
Pot Black moved ahead of Mitchells B as well, but the champions lost precious ground to the leaders because they lost 2-1 at McKees A. Patrick Wallace won the first against James Winters with a 65, but a 33 wasn’t enough to take the second, Winters snatching it with a 38. And the younger man had another 38 to take the lead, Wallace forcing a decider with a 59, only to lose it 29-70. Ronan Fay had a 30 break in clinching a 3-1 win over Dermot Loughran, before Mickey Quinn hit back for the visitors with a break of 67 teeing up a crucial 3-2 win over John Hagan.
In the other tie, Gervins B defeated McVeighs A 2-1 with wins for Anthony McGuckin and Darren Gribben, 13 year old Fergal Quinn taking the Killyman point at Plater’s Hill be outpointing Pearse Kelly.
And there was another 13 year old victorious as Division Two leaders Max Keady B were held to a draw in Coalisland, Daniel Nixon compiling a sweet 43 break in the first frame against Paul McParland. Ryan Morrow had convincingly beaten Darren Corvan in the first game, John O’Reilly and John Maguire taking the away points.
McVeighs B lost at home to McKees B, who are now the chief challengers to Keady, Declan Coney with a second frame ball ball win over Dwayne Mallon, Shane Coney winning the first on the black for his straight frames success and James Conway also having a last ball win to secure a 2-0 verdict over Kieran Corr. The good wine was kept to the last for the home team, Jerome McVeigh with a very impressive success against Gortgonis skipper Martin Doris.
The only whitewash winners on Thursday night were Mitchells C in the derby clash with INF, Jonny McCann with his first league win of the season at Terry Dunlop’s expense and Kevin Kelly playing his best snooker in a while as he dismissed the threat from Ryan Starkey. Peter Loughran saw a 64-0 lead disappear only to grasp the opening frame when Rory Mallon missed the black off its spot as he went for a colours clearance, winning the second easily.
Gary Gordon made it two wins on the spin as he returned after six years away from league snooker, beating Gary McNeill with the help of a 31 break. And Gary is owed an apology because the result which came from Max Keady last week indicated that he had lost, when in fact he had played superbly well to end a winning run by Barry Leeson.
The champagne has been downed in Gortgonis after the Third Division title was won but the new champions are not letting up and they recovered after an opening defeat for debut boy Stephen McKee at the hands of Gervins C ‘stalwart’ Ronan Wilson. Brendan Morgan was taken to the black by Daniel O’Neill in a match switched to Gortgonis from Plater’s Hill. Raymond McKee won two black ball finishes against Jason O’Neill and Patrick Doris had a break of 28 in the second and a 26 in the third to get the better of Nathan Rafferty., who had won a close opening tussle.
Sean Paul McGuckin gave McKees C a great start in Keady but the Max C team took the remaining three points courtesy of Paudie Mallon, Martin Mone and Jody Shortt.
In the Knockout Cup, Ciaran Kelly made a magnificent 61 clearance to beat Mark Nugent on the black and that was to prove crucial as the match between Gervins A and Max Keady A finished 2-2, Seamus Nixon winning the play-off frame in a tight finish as well.
Pot Black hammered the league-leading Mitchells B 3-0 with a bit to spare via wins for Patrick Wallace, Mickey Quinn and Dermot Loughran, Peter Reilly and Paul Currie having shared two frames.
McKees A won 3-1 at home to McVeighs A, via successes for John Hagan, Ronan Fay and James Winters, while Shane Coney beat Rory Mallon to secure a McKees B home triumph over Mitchells INF.