By Derek Kiely
AS the Cork Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) take their seasonal break their Chairman Brendan Cooney would like to wish everyone in the game a very Happy 2013.
The Cork Close Snooker Championship takes place this coming weekend at Douglas Snooker Club and on the team snooker front the emphasis for all the clubs will be long bouts of table time practice, either for the upcoming 'Division Two' Garry McCarthy trophies Cork snooker league semi-finals which will take place over the coming weeks and ahead of the 'Ladbrookes/Gleneagle Hotel Munster Snooker Club Championships' which will start in Killarney on Friday the 25th of January the Cork clubs will be battling for the one trophy that has eluded Cork clubs for thirteen years now, but with the ever growing strength in Cork snooker this could be the year the Munster Cup comes back to Leeside.
Meanwhile with the division one semi-finals are set for mid-February and locally the division one league finishes up it remaining fixtures on the 10th of January with Shooters 'A' hosting the AOH 'A', Youghal CYMS 'B' play Douglas 'A' and Fermoy CYMS host the Crucible 'A'.
Ahead of those fixtures will be the 2013 'Cork Close Snooker Championship' which will be held this coming weekend at Douglas Snooker Club.
The 'Cork Close' is a brilliant tournament where the very best of the CBSA players play over two days on the 5th and the 6th of January. The defending champion is the AOH player Gary Bracken who won this title last year and the bothers who own and run Douglas snooker club Karl and Martin Busteed will have no doubt provide the very best of facilities for the event.
In next week's Cork Snooker we will have a full report on the Cork Close as well as a good look ahead towards next weeks division two semi finals, between The Crucible 'B' and Douglas 'B' which will be played in Youghal CYMS on the 12th of January and the other semi-final between Youghal CYMS 'C' and the AOH 'B' which will played at Douglas snooker club next week on either the 8th or the 9th of January.
But as the Christmas break continues this week's edition of Cork Snooker concentrates on the underage game in Cork. Underage snooker in Cork is by far and away the strongest structure in the country and in Cork nobody dominates the underage game more than Youghal CYMS. The East Cork club have again this year made a clean sweep of all the Cork underage titles and also are dominating the national scene with two 'Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker' (RIBSA) titles at under 16 and under 14 level.
Earlier this year the under 16 title went to Youghal's Adam Fitzgerald who swept all challengers aside in his home club at the Market House'. Fitzgerald is a real prospect as he also claimed the national title at the RIBSA national under 16 championships in Letterkenny Co. Donegal last season.
A few weeks after that success and Youghal's top underage player Aaron Tobin added the Cork under 19 title to his long list of Cork County and National titles with a flawless display at the Crucible snooker club on Blarney Street.
Just a couple of week's ago the talented Noel Landers also from Youghal CYMS successfully defended his Cork under 14 title and complete a clean sweep of underage titles for the seaside club.
Landers was also a national RIBSA champion at under 14 level in Letterkenny last season and I wouldn't bet against him retaining that title either. Noel comes from a family deeply involved with Youghal CYMS, including his father Adrian (Pepper) Landers who is a top class player in his own right.
The game at underage level is in a very healthy state in Cork and even though Youghal CYMS is dominating the tournaments the other clubs like the Crucible and Douglas are starting to produce young players who are improving all the time. The target for these young players has to be competing for these County titles over the next year or two and with players like Sean Burns coming through the dominance of the seaside club will be tested even more, which is great for the game on Leeside.
Now with the introduction of the CBSA division two league, the younger players are getting and opportunity to compete on a weekly basis and it is only a matter of time before they gain promotion into the top flight which all bodes well for the future of the game and for the first time there are a few Cork sides entered into the Munster snooker club championships where the side are completely made up of underage players and that experience will hold them and Cork snooker in good stead going forward into the coming seasons.