AS The year in snooker draws to a close with the 'Shooters Cork Open' the last major Cork tournament for the Rebel cue-men set for Saturday the 28th of April at the brand new venue in Blackpool and the Cork Team Billiards Championships on the horizon, now is as good a time as any to take a look back on the 2011/12 season for Cork snooker and billiards.
The league really was dominated in so many ways by the Crucible snooker club, who showed their dominance of the game in Cork from start to finish, remaining unbeaten throughout their league campaign. Greg Casey was outstanding in the league and definitely was the my top league player in the 'Cork Billiards and Snooker Association' (CBSA) Cork snooker league.
The real telling point in the league for the Crucible I feel was the win at the Market House against Youghal CYMS, where at that point both Youghal CYMS 'A' and the Crucible were both unbeaten and it went right down to the wire, but the Crucible won out in the end, mainly due to the exploits of one Greg Casey.
The Youghal side were defeated by a re-invigorated AOH side who gave the Crucible a good run for their money in the CBSA Cork league final, but it wasn't good enough to see the trophy that had eluded Jimmy Hussey's men in the previous season making its way to the North Side club.
Players on the league winning side the likes of Ryan Cronin, David Cassidy and Daniel O'Regan all made significant contributions to the game either in Cork or at International level.
Cassidy was part of the 'Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker' (RIBSA) International under 21 squad that travelled to the European amateur snooker championships in Bulgaria last March along with Ryan Cronin, plus Greg Casey was part of the RIBSA senior team at the same venue.
Daniel O'Regan became the Cork under 19 snooker champion with a super final performance against team mate David Cassidy in the Crucible snooker club.
Ryan Cronin's performance at the 'Players Tour Championship' (PTC Killarney) was superb, being the only Cork man to progress through to the last 128, where he was eventually defeated by Stephen Maguire, but there wasn't much in it and we know what the Scott has achieved this year in the top events.
Cronin also led the rankings in the National RIBSA under 19 and under 21 events right up to the last weekend. Cronin was defeated in both national finals held at the excellent Douglas snooker club venue, but did enough to be the top Irish ranked under 19 player of the year and made captain of the RIBSA Irish squad who will play in the home internationals and joining Cronin will be fellow Cork cue-men David Cassidy and Christopher Cooney from Youghal CYMS.
So all in all it has been a pretty spectacular year for the Crucible with the one exception in the Orme Shield where they failed to retain the title after a defeat to the Youghal CYMS 'B' team of Ger Kelly, Derek Aherne and Christopher Cooney.
Youghal CYMS 'A' were defeated in the semi final by the newly re-formed Shooters snooker club, where Thomas Grainey, David Forde and Gary Bracken who went on to win the Orme Shield and en-route Bracken knocked in his highest ever tournament break with a very impressive 133 clearance.
Bracken went into the Orme Shield in great form after winning the 'Cork Close' snooker tournament winning the AOH sponsored shield with a very impressive three frame to nil victory over the Cork under 16 county champion Aaron Tobin from Youghal CYMS.
In the junior version of the Orme Shield which is called the Cork under 17 teams event Youghal were too strong with Aaron Tobin, Kenny Wight and Lee Walsh winning out.
In under 14 snooker Youghal CYMS were successful again with again with Noel Landers scooping the county title in Fermoy CYMS at the 'Wagon Wheel Bar' sponsored event and in Cork county billiards 'The Boss' Timmy Murphy Snr was the winning player in the event held at Murphy's home club the AOH.
Also from the AOH Lloyd Myers got his first Senior Billiards International waistcoat following in the footsteps of the 'Boss' himself.
The negative from the year really concern the performances of our clubs at the Munster and All Ireland Club Championships. Another year passes and no Cork success in Killarney is getting a little tough to take. The Crucible and Youghal CYMS did make it through to the All Ireland snooker club championships by virtue of making it through to the Munster semi finals, but I suppose one thing you have to admire more than anything about Cork Snooker is the loyalty that the players show to their clubs.
I am 100% sure if Cork wanted to pack a Cork team together to win the events they certainly could, but that isn't the Cork way, which is probably a good thing.
My top player for the season has to be the outstanding Ryan Cronin from the Crucible snooker club, if there is someone out there with deep pockets they should consider getting behind this young man who has what it takes to go all the way in the game of snooker!
Roll of Honour in the 2011/2012
CBSA League Champions: The Crucible
CBSA Cork Close Champion: Gary Bracken
CBSA Cork Billiards Champion: Tim Murphy Snr
CBSA Orme Shield Champions: Shooters Snooker Club
RIBSA Under 19 No1: Ryan Cronin
CBSA Under 19 Champion: Daniel O'Regan
CBSA Under 16 Champion: Aaron Tobin
CBSA Under 14 Champion: Noel Landers
CBSA Under 17 Team Champions: Youghal CYMS
Shooters Cork Open Champion: ???????????????