Castle take the First Division Cup honours
SHORTLY before Castle Tavern and Coach B arrived for the First Division Knockout Cup Final committee member Neville Reid and Halfway sponsor Richard Ferris were putting the finishing touches to an already immaculately prepared pool table.
Once both teams had knocked a few balls around referee Seamus McGrath racked the colours for the first break to Pete Haughey from Coach. It was a scrappy affair as both Pete and Gordon church were guilty of producing more fouls than actual attempts at potting the colours.
Finally Gordon had an opportunity to go for game, a cannon dislodged his last colour which in turn set up the black. First blood to the Tavern.
The second game was in complete contrast to the first and even those that followed. It was over in a matter of moments just after Tom Bell split the pack all over the table. This was to be his only visit to the table as his role became that of a spectator when Andrew Deane wasted no time at all in clearing his chosen colours and black. It was a white coat in three minutes - Tom Bell could nothing about as Deano levelled the score.
At one each Kevin Quinn broke for Coach, the first phase of the game was notable for the safety play displayed by both players. Richard Gibson would have first attempt to pot the black when he missed the Coach player resorted to snookers to regain control.
With the advantage now squarely with Kevin he too faced the black, a poor attempt left the black for Richard, a steal for Castle Tavern to lead 2-1.
The forth game was an all out tactical affair with both players having opportunities to go for game. Brian McClelland finished the stronger of the two by potting his last four reds.
With both cue ball and black central on the table the possibility of an in-off was evident but potting the black was too tempting and another chance may not come his way. Brian judged the pot perfectly and a 3-1 lead was established.
At this point in the match both teams and spectators were treated to The Halfway House hospitality, the hot food served was very much appreciated by everyone present. Thanks to Rab Mulligan and the staff for providing the refreshments.
The fifth was a vital frame for both teams for opposite reasons, to Coach an opportunity to reduce the deficit, to Castle Tavern a chance to extend their lead. The Coach player made the first move on the black but it just stayed up.
This let Ryan Taylor back to the table to lay a snooker, Steven Blackwood’s miss resulted in a free table for Ryan. The lead was extended to 4-1 when the black was potted by Ryan.
Coach were now in big trouble as they now had to win the remaining games to lift the cup while Tavern required one. The nerves began to show as both players missed easy chances, at one stage one of the players was so caught up in the moment he even played an opponents ball thinking it was his own, certainly keeping referee Neville Reid on his toes.
With most of the colours at one end of the table it was a tricky game to predict. Eventually though the colours became more accessible, much to the relief of the Coach it was Steven Green who would come out in top to reduce the deficit to 4-2.
The seventh game was also not without incident. This time Andy Proctor, in his enthusiasm to get on with it, took to the table only it was not his turn to play. After a couple of shots by each player the situation was rectified and Ronnie Weir, who should have been playing, faced Coach’s Ryan Hunter who by now was well warmed up.
So warmed up in fact he went on to defeat Ronnie in a game which brought the side’s closer at 4-3.
Castle Tavern’s Andy Proctor returned to the table, this time in his proper place on the fixture sheet. Any signs of having been annoyed at being stopped when playing the previous game were nil and void as he dominated this eighth game. In fact he was always in control of the table when up against Coach captain Bert Doherty, so much so that when Andy missed a chance to pot the black Bert still had four reds on the table.
The pressure was on the Coach captain to save the match and force a deciding game. With an obvious easier pot to the corner Bert ignored this one to concentrate on a more difficult cut to the middle. Had he pulled it off he may well have went on to finish the game.
As it was the shot to the middle was missed which left Andy a straight forward black to the corner and victory for Castle Tavern.
Once the applause had quietened down Tavern captain Ryan Taylor received the trophy from Halfway sponsor Richard Ferris to whom he paid thanks on behalf of both teams. He thanked Coach as opponents, referees Seamus and Neville and the Halfway staff for the food and hospitality, all echoed by First Division secretary Seamus McGrath who congratulated Castle Tavern on collecting silverware in this their first season. With that the celebrations began in earnest. It was quite a night.
In the A. McLean Bookmakers Premier Division Anglers travelled twice to play two previously postponed matches. Maximum points from these matches would have seen them rocket up the table into a shared second place.
So how did they do? Not bad at all was the answer as they were 3-1 up against Higgins with wins for B. Crossey, P. Devlin and K. McGrath. The single reply for Higgins was the recently crowned Individuals winner Brendan Davis. Higgins tied the match with a win each for Paddy Donaghy followed by Colly Wilton.
Anglers put a severe dent in Higgins title aspirations by gaining maximum points with wins for Noel Tumilty followed by S. Sands. A good result for Anglers but an even better result for Coach as this puts even more daylight between themselves and their nearest rivals Higgins.
With a chance of second position in the table now a possibility Anglers travelled to Market Bar the very next evening. It was not such a good a start for them this time as they fell behind when Trevor Ashe and Owen Cull won for the home team.
The next three games were much more in their favour as they took the lead through M Cosgrove, I McGrath and K McGrath. Market levelled with a win for L Armstrong.
Anglers could almost touch the two points when S Bell gave them an outright lead at 4-3. The point required to lift them into second place evaded them when N Finnegan gained Market a share of the points.
Maybe not the outcome Anglers had wanted but even so these postponed matches have still had an impact on the table. Coach look the stronger thanks to these results and now have a four point lead, but the chase for second spot has now extended to include five teams all capable of claiming second position if not the top position should Coach slip up.
The final tournament of the season has commenced, the Eddie Fearon memorial doubles sponsored by A. McLean Bookmakers. Please consult the delivered main draw for details.
A. McLean Bookmakers Premier Division
Mulholland's A 1411
Market Bar A 1411
Anglers A 14 11
Castle Bar A 1410
Banbridge Legion 147