THE Hayes Fuels Mid Ulster league is now down to a two horse race after Swa Men’s title challenge came to an end in spectacular fashion when they travelled to Magherafelt last week. Pot Black remain firmly in the driving seat but they will be wary of St Pat’s A closing in behind them and no doubt when the top two teams clash next week the picture will be a lot clearer.
St Pat’s A and Swa Men were level on points as the two teams went head to head in Magherafelt with both teams desperate for victory to sustain their title challenge. Brian Milne Jnr faced up to Martin McLarnon and will be thankful for a kind run of the balls that helped him earn a hard fought victory on the pink ball in the first frame and blue ball in the second frame.
Colin Reid and Mark Doherty were next up and the opening frame went down to the final black. Both players were presented with opportunities to secure the frame but it was Reid that held himself together by potting the last pink and black. The opening frame success gave Reid momentum and a break of 32 in the next frame moved the former champions into a 4-0 lead. Sensing that the Swatragh challenge was on the rocks JP Donaghy capitalised further by taking both frames from Seamus Lagan although Donaghy was hard pressed and played his best snooker of the season to secure a 6-0 victory for his side.
Pot Black travelled to lowly Longfield and similar to St Pat’s A the previous week they struggled against the Desertmartin outfit. Peter Reilly lost both frames to a resurgent Seamus Kane and when Philip O’Hagan shared with Mickey Quinn the Cookstown outfit were in all kinds of trouble as Handicap individual champion Noel McAllister would have fancied his chances of taking at least a frame from Paul Mc Guckin.
It wasn’t to be for McAllister as his opponent knocked in sizeable breaks in both frames to secure a crucial 3-3 draw for his side.
St Pat’s C entertained St Kevin’s and recorded a resounding 5-1 victory that gives the Magherafelt side a possibility of avoiding finishing in last place for the second year running. Brian Milne Snr was in devastating form as he blew Kevin Murray off the table which has proven difficult for many opponents this season. Jordan Shivers brought St Kevin’s back into the match when taking the opening frame from Seamus Wright.
The second frame was a battle to the end with the blue ball proving troublesome for both players; it is thought that the St Pat’s club will need a new blue ball as a result of the battering it took for 20minuntes before Wright finally potted it. Inspired by the pot on the blue the pink and black were soon to follow to move St Pat’s C 3-1 in front.
Brendan ‘the bullet’ Gilmore is without doubt player of the month for February after an excellent run of results and his victory over Dessie Murray confirmed that the bullet is on fire and is back to his brilliant best after a dip in form at the start of the season, Gilmore simply summed it up in a few words “Form is temporary, Class is Permanent”.
St Pat’s B travelled to Draperstown to take on Johnny’s and had to settle for yet another draw in a season were the former champions never really reached the levels that they would expect to be playing at. Enda McCusker shared the opening frames with Gerry McAuley and the last two games were also shared as Kieran Cassidy drew with Frankie Trolan and Sean Doyle shared frames with Dermot McAuley.
The Individual draws has now been complete and are as follows – Scratch Individual Championship, Peter Reilly v Kieran Cassidy, Sean Doyle v Frankie Trolan, Dermot McAuley v Mickey Quinn and Gerry McAuley v Martin O’Hagan.
Handicap Individual Competition draw – Dermot McAuley v Seamus Wright, Philip O’Hagan v Regis McAuley, Gerry McAuley v Dessie Murray, Noel McAllister v Enda McCusker, Kevin Murray v Kieran Cassidy, Martin McLarnon v Brian Milne Jnr, Brian Milne Snr v Jason Cushenan, Seamus Kane v Frankie Trolan, Jordan Shivers v Colin Reid, Sean Doyle v Brendan Gilmore and John Donaghy v Paddy Murray.
Players are to make arrangements with their opponents this week to get these opening round fixtures played as soon as possible. Tables will be available in the St Pat’s club from Sunday to Thursday for these matches. Failure to get the above games complete before Wednesday March 7th will result in players being eliminated from the competitions