English Billiards - 2016 Four Nations Championship
19th & 20th November 2016 / The Ivy Rooms, Carlow, Republic of Ireland
NORTHERN IRELAND BREAK DUCK AND END ENGLISH DOMINANCE
The Northern Irish Billiards Team created history by claiming the Four Nations Championship for the very first time in their history last month.
Travelling across the border into the Republic, the team of Kenny Campbell, Tony Buttimer, Darren Dornan, Christian Kirk, Richie Comiskey, William Lowes, Norman Whaley (manager) and Keith McCready (assistant manager) upset the odds.
The Four Nations is a prestigious, annual event that has been held on the amateur circuit for the last 17 years. It currently consists of England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Austria sending squads of at least six players. The history of this competition has almost totally been the sole possession of England, with only the ROI blemishing that record, prior to this, in 2003.
A unique format this year saw the weekend's action take place across nine tables at the Ivy Rooms. Matches were contested across 90 minutes and 2 frames of 150up.
Defending champions England - spearheaded by World Number 3 Rob Hall, began the opening session well but ended Day 1 in third place. Northern Ireland held a slender advantage over their neighbours, whilst the improving Austrians were fourth.
The lead would switch hands during a tense final day's play on Sunday, although NI went into the evening's last session ahead. They did however had to collect more points in their last match with England.
Realising their potential (it had been noted how strong the team was this year), Northern Ireland duly responded and finished on top of the table with 46 points - 3 in front of England. The hosts came third with 40 and relative newcomers Austria fourth with 15.
Hall was unbeaten throughout the event in which he made an outstanding break of 333, nearly beating the all time record in this tournament (which he also holds) of 341.
For the Champions, Campbell, Dornan and Comiskey each registered centuries as well.
Throughout the weekend, the atmosphere and passion within the impressive venue was for all to see.
Before this year's edition there was a minutes silence for English Amateur Billiards Association (EABA) president Derick Townend, who sadly passed away just over a week before. Townend had been instrumental in founding and creating this great festival of international billiards.
The 2017 event will be held in Vienna, Austria.
Many thanks to Keith McCready for permission to use his above photograph.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 15th December 2016