ST Patrick’s Snooker Club Magherafelt has just returned from Killarney after competing in the prestigious All-Ireland Club Championships team event for the fourth time in the clubs history.
Although unsuccessful in their quest for All-Ireland glory, the team and club can reflect on the great strides they have made in recent years.
An indication of the improvement in the team over recent years was that the team topped their group in qualifying for the finals and was narrowly denied a place in the quarter finals as a result of a 3-2 defeat against Maynooth.
The Co. Derry side was pitted in a tough group along with Munster Champions New Institute, Leinster Kingpins N.U.I Maynooth as well as top Dublin side Terry Rogers and the Twintowns club from Connaught.
The Magherafelt sides’ first match was against Dublin side Terry Rogers and the team got off to a dream start as all five players claimed convincing victories without dropping a frame.
Sean Doyle sat out the opening match as Kieran Cassidy, Gerry McAuley, Brian Milne, Peter Reilly and Paul McGuckin gave the team the start they could only have dreamed about.
The evening session pitted the Derry outfit against New Institute in a match that the team really struggled to get into any sort of rhythm. Brian Milne, Kieran Cassidy and Peter Reilly all suffered defeats as Sean Doyle played out a terrific match with Tom Gleeson that was stopped with the score at 1 frame each. Gerry McAuley was on the verge of taking the second frame from the excellent Brendan O’ Donoghue who incidentally recorded the highest break of the tournament, a superb 135 clearance. All was not lost at this stage as Saturday mornings clash with Maynooth would determine what side finished as runners up in the group.
Saturday mornings match against Maynooth was tensioned filled from the off and it was obvious that both teams were feeling the pressure Brian Milne and Sean Doyle suffered surprisingly quick defeats as both players were well below par and facing Maynooths top players. Even though the side was 2-0 down they battled on and almost produce an almighty comeback only to fall short at the finish.
Peter Reilly bounced back from losing the first frame to claim his match and make the score 2-1 in favour of Maynooth.
Paul Mc Guckin potted a superb blue and was rather unlucky to leave himself with a tricky pink, with no easy safety available McGuckin took on the pink but agonisingly the pink ball stayed out of the pocket and left his opponent an easy shot for the match.
Heartbreak for the St Pat’s men as McAuley was all but over the line in his match to leave the final score 3-2 in favour of Maynooth.
Mathematically the St Pat’s team still had an opportunity to progress but their hopes were ended when Terry Rogers failed to defeat Maynooth.
The St Pat’s men had applied all the pressure they could on Maynooth as they comprehensively defeated Twintowns in the last match with all players knocking in superb breaks to easily claim victory.
Sean Doyle, Kieran Cassidy, Peter Reilly, Paul McGuckin and Gerry McAuley were all victorious against the Connaught side.
All in all it proved to be another excellent experience for the Magherafelt men as they showed they can compete with the best teams in Ireland and on another day they would have progressed to the quarter finals.
The team found conditions hard to deal with at times but battled on gamely to finish a respectable third in their group and will be hoping to make a return to the Kingdom in 2013.
For the record the All-Ireland title went to Leinster side Celbridge as they defeated Northern side Drumaness in the final on a scoreline of 3-1 with ex professional Colm Gilcreest being awarded player of the tournament.
The St Patrick’s team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated in any way towards the team during their weeks of fundraising. Without their kind donations the weekend would not have been made possible.