McVeighs A were crowned champions of Division Two on Thursday night, but Max Keady A will have to win a
play-off to retain the top title.
A remarkable 62 clearance by Darren Gribben denied the champions a whitewash win in Coalisland, the Gervins A player coming from 61 points down in the decider to beat visiting skipper Mark Nugent to snatch a 2-1, on a night when Pot Black won all four points a mile away at the McKees club in Gortgonis to force the Division One championship to an additional match for the second successive season.
It was a splendid victory for Gribben because he had lost the first frame 55-11 and won the second 67-55 to set the scene for the amazing decider in which Nugent made a couple of 30 breaks to lead 63-1.
A 38 break won the first for Seamus Nixon before Richie Comisxkey hit back to square the match and lay the foundations for a marvellous win, with Sean Hoey also fighting back after losing the second against Anthony McGuckin to a 34 break, a fine 38 snatching the third for the cool Hoey.
Thus everything for both the teams who had gone into the last night as joint leaders now depended on the last game in which Barry Hughes comfortably won two tense and tactical frames at the expense of the under-pressure home captain Ciaran Kelly.
Up in Gortgonis, Peter Reilly cleared from the last red to the pink in the first frame but lost it to Jason Campbell’s long black. A 37 break and a series of misses on the last red made it 1-1 and Reilly went on to win the decider by thirty points.
Patrick Wallace restricted Stevie Campbell to just a single point in their opener, making a 40 break along the way. Campbell responded by winning the second on the penultimate red but Wallace made a 38 break in the decider in winning it on the last red.
Mickey Quinn recovered from a first frame loss to Colm Kelly to win on the final black. Each player won a frame on the second last red before Quinn cleared from blue to black in the final frame, after Kelly’s attempt on the blue to the green pocket juggled and agonisingly crept across the table to finish close to the yellow pocket, leaving a long distance mental tester for the Cookstown cueman.
In the fourth game to go the full distance, Dermot Loughran edged John Hagan 2-1. Loughran won a close first by sinking the final pink to the middle. Hagan cleared to the blue with 30 from two reds out to impressively level things at 1-1, but unluckily knocked in the black to leave himself needing snookers on the brown in the final frame.
Gortgonis was also the venue for the opportunity for longtime Division Two leaders McVeighs A to win a long overdue league title and they duly achieved their goal, but only just because their 3-1 margin of victory was the same as Mitchells B who started a point off the leaders.
John McArdle won the opener against Tyrone Whitehouse but lost the second heavily and scramble home on the pinl in the decider, Danny McVeigh winning with a bit to spare against Martin Doris to put the visitors tantalisingly close to the title.
But James Conway spoiled the party a little bit when he proved too strong in a thord frame shoot-out with Jerome McVeigh, Kieran Corr clinching the crown with a narrow 2-1 victory over Owen McKee.
Mitchells B’s hopes of a play-off for the title were foiled when Chris Maye scored a big win, that ironically over former McVeighs A cueman Conor Gillespie.
Max Keady B were left to settle for third place when they were held to a draw by Mitchells INF, for whom Paddy Doran and Kevin O’Donnell were the visiting winners.
McKees C’s double hopes were dashed when Sean Day beat Ollie O’Neill in a play-off, so it’s now youthful Gervins C against veteran McVeighs B in the Division Three cup final.