THIS snooker tournament is the real deal as the Worlds top professionals make their way to Killarney next weekend to play in the Players Tour Championship 8 (PTC8) the cue-men from Cork City will have their opportunity to take on the very best at the Killarney Convention Centre (KCC) in a 'World Snooker' ranking event.
The plans for an event of this stature have been nurtured for years now and with the full backing of the World governing body for the game the stars of the green baize and the country's top amateurs will make their way to the 'Kingdom' and be part of a proper ranking points tournament.
Cork has produced some excellent international players at the top level of amateur snooker, but have produced very little in terms of the professional game and with the exception of Anthony O'Connor who incidentally plays at the PTC8.
Since Anthony's playing days back in the mid nighties there hasn't been the break through into the professional ranks that everyone involved in the game on Leeside would have hoped for.
That could all be about to change with events like PTC8 and the excellent academy at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow run by national snooker coach PJ Nolan, the stars of tomorrow from the Rebel County could just be ready to take the next step towards the professional game.
Cork will have nine players involved at PTC8 in Killarney and with a bit of luck and some mistake free frames, who knows what can happen.
The amateurs will have next Thursday to themselves in the nerve racking qualification round, where 110 amateurs from Ireland and the rest of the World will play to qualify for 40 places in the first round proper on Friday.
The PTC8 has been very successful so far and the best of seven frame format throughout the tournament has proven to be very popular with the players and spectators alike.
The format makes for quick attacking snooker and with a €50,000 prize pool in place and €10,000 for the winner of each PTC event, plus those invaluable ranking points, Barry Hearne and the powers that be in World Snooker have got it spot on.
Unlike previous exhibition nights, smaller invitational non ranking point events, this is the real thing. There will not be any trick shot demo's, no laughing with the crowd as the players give a blow by blow commentary or the fun and games that the snooker public are used to seeing at those type of events.
There is nothing wrong with exhibitions, infact they are a great nights entertainment, but PTC8 will be ruthless, top class professional snooker at its very best and its very toughest. This is work and professional players in the game take their work very seriously indeed and that is why this event is a fantastic sporting occasion here in Munster and it puts Ireland back on the snooker map for the first time since Goff's.
Anthony O'Connor, Greg Casey (Pictured), David Cassidy, Karl Busteed and the other Cork players will be very familiar with the venue. Destination Killarney, the Gleneagle Hotel and the KCC are home to the 'Munster and All Ireland Club Championships' held every January and February and all the Cork players heading to PTC8 have played there on many occasions over the years, so that in a sense is help to the Cork players.
Obviously playing in the same rooms as the World's finest is a bit daunting, but it should spur the Cork players on to achieve the best that they can. There is a separate amateur tournament too for those who don't progress with a place on the televised stages of the German Masters at stake for the winner.
There will be a television table in the KCC for Euro Sport who film this event live and this could be a rare opportunity for one of our top players to shine to the rest of the Continent.
Tournament Promoter Connie O'Sullivan told Rebel Snooker “This event is huge and I believe we have the very best venue and I know that the players who haven't been here before will love the KCC, Killarney and the whole area. The Cork players who are in PTC8 know me and the venue like the back of their hands, but once the referee calls play to begin, it's the play on the table that will do the talking. I would love to see one of the Cork lads going through to the latter stages, that would be a dream come true and God knows they have enough talented players at the PTC8 event to cause even the best professionals all kinds of problems”.
The Crucible Club will send four players to PTC8, Ryan Cronin, David Cassidy, Daniel and Greg Casey.
Casey told the Evening Echo “The PTC events are brilliant, I watch them all and to be involved in one is fantastic. This is why we play the game, to get an opportunity to play against the very best. The odds are stacked against us, but you just never know what can happen over seven frames and with a bit of the rub of the green and some solid cueing there is always a chance. We have to believe we are going to Killarney to win or otherwise there is no point in turning up in the first place. I am really looking forward to PTC8 in Killarney, it just can't come fast enough for me”.
Douglas Snooker Club will also have four representatives in Derek O'Neill, Karl Busteed, Daniel Kirby and Anthony O'Connor.
Karl Busteed said “Its great to be involved because this is the real deal and this is the test of your nerves, a test of your ability and an event like PTC8 generates great interest in the game here in Cork. Already I can see a lot of young lads taking up the game and with the success of snooker here in Cork plus the arrival of real ranking event tournament in Ireland the game is going to sky rocket here in the Rebel County”.
Practice break 147.
Reached the last 16 of the World and European amateur under 21 championships.
Greg plays for the Crucible Snooker Club and is a regular Republic of Ireland International.
Best Break 135
A member of many Cork Clubs down through the years and has been involved in the game on Leeside for many years.
Plays for Douglas Snooker Club and has represented Douglas at the Munster Snooker Club Championships in Killarney.
“I love the game, if I wasn't playing at PTC8 I would be down there watching it anyway so I can't wait”.
Played in the 'Six Reds' competition in Killarney where he took on Joe Perry. Currently plays in the Cork Snooker and Billiards snooker league with the AOH. “I can't wait for the PTC8 it will be amazing to be involved in an event like this”.
Plays for the Crucible Snooker Club and has played as an Republic of Ireland International and has represented his club at the 'Munster and All Ireland Snooker Club Championships'. The Macroom based player is really looking forward to the event “To be in this kind of company is what it is all about”.
The Douglas Snooker Club player is one of the stalwarts of the game on Leeside. Just like his fellow team mate Derek O'Neill, Busteed has played at other clubs including the Crucible. Now firmly based on the South Side of Cork City he relishes the thought of mixing it up with big boys
Anthony is a former professional with a high break of 143, Anthony finished his professional career 15 years ago, but is still very active with the Cork Snooker Scene. Formerly a member of the 147 Club in Blackpool and a member of the CBSA League champions last season with 'Shooters'.
Anthony is now based at Douglas Snooker Club.
Another Crucible International player who is great young talent. Ryan has played in Killarney for his club on many occasions now in various tournaments. Ryan has also competed in Wales for the Republic of Ireland in the home nations tournaments. “I love the game, and I am really looking forward to this tournament, it will be a great learning experience”.
The Crucible player is now even at this young age an established international player. David got to the last 16 of the World Amateur championships in Montreal recently and made it through to the last 32 of the European Amateur championships in Malta, plus he is a regular contender in the home nations.
Daniel is just six months playing the game and is a member of the Douglas Snooker Club ''B' side and even in this short period of play, he has knocked in a '60' break.
“For someone my age, this is a great chance to experience snooker at the top level and it will be a great time to see the best on the tables in Killarney”.
THE Players Tour Championship is now an established circuit of top rated 'World Snooker' events and when the Killarney PTC8 gets under way next week the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Stephen Hendry and all the top professionals will be present for this tournament.
The event has a prize pool of €50,000 and the format of best of seven frames runs throughout the event, including the semi finals and the final.
So far this year O'Sullivan and Robertson have recorded successes in the PTC and veteran star Steve Davis has featured too.
The tournament is officially started this coming Thursday with the amateurs playing each other for those coveted spots in the first round proper and a first round win ensures some prize money out of the €50,000 prize fund.
Friday sees the introduction of all the Worlds top players and this is where the dreams of an amateur can come true as the possibility of cueing it up against the likes of O'Sullivan, Hendry, Trump or Judd becomes a sudden reality.
The venue at the Killarney Convention Centre is second to none and is geared to hosting major events and with its tiered seating makes a perfect arena for the game on the television table which will be used for live broadcasts from Euro Sport during Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Destination Killarney and the Gleneagle Hotel Groups Patrick O'Donoghue said “This is a major event for sport in Ireland and we are delighted to be part of it. World Snooker events are top class events and we hope that our top class facility at the Killarney Convention Centre will be enjoyed by the players and spectators alike. We are offering very competitive rates for the weekend at the Brehon, the Gleneagle Hotel and the Riverside Apartments and look forward to welcoming everyone to Killarney next weekend”.
The Cork players will be in action fairly early on Thursday and will play as follows:
Daniel O'Regan (Crucible) v Alaistar Wilson (Co. Antrim)
David Cassidy (Crucible) v Colm Gilcreest
Karl Busteed (Douglas) v Ryan Causton
Greg Casey (Crucible) v Jamie O'Neill
Derek O'Neill (Douglas) v Jonathan Neelson (Co. Antrim)
Ryan Cronin (Crucible) v John Friel (Cue Club Killarney)
Anthony O'Connor (Douglas) v Alan Taylor
Kevin O'Shea (AOH) v Ben Harrison
If the Cork lads win two matches on Thursday they will be into the first round proper on Friday next and then the 'Skies are the Limits' !