IT was writtten in the script of the McLean Bookmakers Pool League story that the league title would be decided on the last black in the final frame played on the final night of league matches and boy what an exciting night was had by all.
With the scouts at all the other important matches the news had already filtered through that The Bridge Bar had done what they had to do to keep their slim hopes of glory alive by despencing of the legion by a score line of 6-2.
Both Mulholland’s and The Coach knew they could not afford to slip up.
This match started off with victory in frame one for the joint leaders in the league as Simon Roy inflicted a rare defeat on Gareth Moody. Kevin Smyth levelled the match to increase the tension.
Meanwhile over in Gilford the same scoreline was comming through as Stevie Fitzpatrick won the opener for The Castle and by all accounts Mucker McMullen was very fortunate to level it for The Coach.
Back in Banbridge individual champion Gary Crawford restored Mulholland’s lead but that was soon wiped out as former champion Colly once again had us all square on the night.
Eveybody in the Castle were also on hot coals as frame by frame the text messages were flying but this did not annoy Cecil Corbett as he smashed the balls of the break and left his oppenent in awe as he set about clearing all seven colours and finished perfectly on the black, making it 2-1 to the Castle.
Gordy Maggennis had a great chance to stretch that lesd but Stevie Doherty had other ideas and as in Banbridge there was a tied game on.
With both matches at a stalemate it was 10-1 on that a Monday night play off was on the cards.
In Scarva Street yet another former individual champion came to the table but he could only stand back and watch Neil Beggs sink the black to once again give Mulhollands a slender lead. Back in Gilford the Coach were hitting Mulholland’s frame for frame as Tom Moore gave the Banbridge side the lead for the first time on the night. You could cut the tension with a knife in both bars - it was definately not a night for the faint hearted ,
Meanwhile in Banbridge frame six was just about to go the way of Mulhollands as Wes McDowell, who counted himself fortunate to get on the black, sank the eight ball and it looked all over in this tie.
The Gilford match had now picked up pace and they were racing through their frames but disaster was about to strike for the Coach as they let a 3-2 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit as Ryan Fitzpatrick took frame six and unbelieveably Cecil Corbett once again took only one visit at the table to secure victory in the frame ,
The Coach now knew they had to win the final frame and hope that Higgins could win the final two frames in Banbridge to have a play off. Well of course in Banbridge Higgins did win frame seven through Colly Wilton and Noel Meara. In Gilford this news inspired Mucker and Gus and they duely completed the match to earn the Coach a draw .
This news filtered through to Banbridge. Cars raced to Scarva Street to witness the final frame of the season and what a final frame it was.
It had every thing. After many a cagey shot and some fantastic potting with Mulhollands down to one red and Higgins with two yellows Simon Roy fouled and handed two shots to Higgins. Michael McClean cooly placed one yellow over the corner pocket, turned to his other ball and could not believe when it looked like a perfect connection and positional shot only for the yellow to rattle in the jaws of the pocket and not drop.
Wayne Jess stepped forward for Mulhollands and had to compose himself. The cheers could be heard the whole way to Dromore as he sank the final black and gave Mulhollands the McLean Bookmakers Premier Title.
All the Higgins players were the first to congratulate the boys on a well earned title and it was said rightly that the best team in the season came out on top - eventually.
The season was once again a successful one and Seamus McGrath would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people:
First of all to the main league sponsors McLean Bookmakers - a very hearty thank you and we hope you found your sponsorship well worth while; to Mulhollands Bar Dromore and in particular Martin Mulholland for taking up the sponsorship of the individuals tournament and presentation night - all players involved agreed it was the best individuals event in years; Owen Cull from The Market Bar for his sponsorship of the First Division Cup and last but definately not least Dominos’ pizza for their generous sponsorship of the revamped doubles tournament.
On a personal note Seamus would like to thank all the other members of the committee for their tireless work, all the publicans for allowing us to use their premises for the matches and mostly to the players who turned up week in week out because without players commitments there would not be a pool league .