McGuckin shines on a superb debut

Hayes Fuels Mid-Ulster League

WITH the Hayes Fuels Mid Ulster league currently on a break the doubles took pride of place as the local players battled it out for a place in the final of the Mid Ulster league doubles.

The format this year was changed and the innovative idea proved to be an overwhelming success with the draw for partners taking place on the night. With handicaps coming into play Brian Milne Snr and John Donaghy and Martin O’Hagan and Hugh Mulholland appeared to be the likely partnerships that would be involved at the latter stages.

But anyone that has ever played doubles can testify; it is a very different game to the normal singles matches.

Philip O’Hagan and Freddie Cooke took on Brian Milne Snr and John Donaghy in the preliminary round and deservedly took the honours although they needed a re-spotted black in the second frame to ensure a safe passage into the next round.

Seamus Kane and Kieran Cassidy were next up for the O’Hagan/Cooke partnership and again this match went down to the wire with Cassidy making a decisive 22 clearance in the first frame and Kane potting the crucial colours in the second frame to send them into the semi final.

Enda O’Hagan and ‘The Bullet’ Gilmore seemed like a match made in heaven as the craft and guile of Gilmore coupled with O’Hagan’s potting ability would make them a formidable opponent for Brian Milne Jnr and Raymond Speirs.

Things didn’t work out as planned for Gilmore and O’Hagan as they struggled to get into the match and were soundly beaten 2-0, the dynamic duo offered little resistance which was a shock to all watching.

Hugh Mulholland and Martin O’Hagan were a strong partnership on paper but they could not carry their expectations to the table as the bowed out tamely to Mark Doherty and Noel Mc Allister. Two superb clearances from Doherty were enough to ensure the Longfield duo made it through to the semi final.

The last quarter final match was the big game of the night as the luck of the draw brought together a real family affair. Mitchell’s player Paul Mc Guckin was partnered by his brother Peter who was making his first competitive start for many years.

The twist in the tale was that Paul’s eleven year old son playing in his first ever competitive match was in the opposite corner partnered by the formidable Sean Doyle.

The shock proved to come from the youngest Mc Guckin as it was Daniel that played the telling part in the opening frame with some superb pots that left his partner in awe at stages. The second frame took a similar path with young Daniel Mc Guckin playing a level of safety beyond his years and when Sean Doyle knocked in an excellent break of 50 the writing was on the ball for the Mc Guckin brothers.

“What can I say, I have been humbled, I never thought he would beat me at such a young age, maybe I shouldn’t have told him the importance of playing good safety in the car on the way to Magherafelt” said Paul Mc Guckin.

The semi final pairing of Cassidy/Kane and Milne/Speirs proved to be a dire affair with all the players clearly off their game, the exception to this appeared to be Kieran Cassidy who said afterwards “Simply put, I was class”.

Kane potted the brown, a superb blue and pink to steal the opening frame when it had looked like Milne was set to claim it. The second frame was also a tactical affair but the Kane/Cassidy combination deservedly took the frame and match to secure their place in the final later in the season.

The second semi final was the one everyone was waiting on as they waited to see how Daniel Mc Guckin would cope with the prospect of reaching his first major final. He got off to an ideal start as his partner Sean Doyle helped to build up an early lead that was to prove significant.

Doherty and Mc Allister tried their best to get back into the match but Mc Guckin and Doyle were now in the zone and closed out the opening frame. The second frame followed a similar path and when Mc Guckin missed an opportunity to claim the match it looked as though the pressure was finally beginning to tell, it wasn’t to last however as Mc Guckin got a second chance to claim the match, this time he didn’t miss and a clenched fist signalled Mc Guckin and Doyle reaching the final.

The final of the doubles competition will be played later in the season during finals week.