The biggest game of the season so far is nearly upon us as leaders CWC A will host double quadruple winners TJ's A on Thursday night. CWC hold a slender 1 point lead at the top going into this clash and defeat for TJ's could see an end to their half a decade of shear dominance. It might be Valentines day but the love will be long gone when Thursday night cues off.
This will be the 3rd time these teams have met already this season. The league game ended all square with TJ's taking the last 2 frames to snatch a draw. The Vegas Cup game was just as fascinating and after 8 frames it went down to Stevie Teggart (TJ's A) v Tucker Hughes (CWC A). Teggart took the decider to knock CWC tumbling out in the 1st round.
Incidentally (and rather incredibly) Killeavy native Stevie Teggart is the only player to have won in both matches. The TJ's marksman has played only a handful of games but he does like playing against CWC.
THE CAPTAINS :
CWC A: Pat Brady has built a strong squad and at long last TJ's A have some competition. Brady is ruthless in his team selection. He has his tried and tested 6 or 7 players and the subs wait for their chance to come along. Niall McVerry is a quality player and he jumped ship because he wasn't getting a fair crack in the team. Shane Phelan and Paddy Tavey have been living off scraps but in Brady's stable you just put up or shut up. Harvey Lavelle has lost his last 4 league games but he will almost certainly start this massive title clash which shows the way Brady operates.
TJ's A: Laurence McAlinden also has his faithful tried and tested but his selection headaches are made easier because of the absence of lethal players like Stevie Teggart and Declan McMahon for parts of the season. Stevie Noade and Eugene McDermott have sat out a lot of TJ's games but they've all had their fair share of opportunities to impress. Sometimes McAlinden is too faithful to his team mates as Declan McConville lost his 1st 5 league games but still got in the team.
Over the last 2 clashes between these 2 titans McAlinden won the tactical battle. In the Cup game Brady moved himself from 6th to 2nd and that spectacularly back-fired when he got 'dished' by Raymie McKenna. Larry made a bold move in the league encounter when he played Manny Byrne 1st against the deadly Kieran McMahon. That worked a treat when Byrne inflicted a 1st league defeat on McMahon.
The 8 players CWC A will start with should be fairly easy to work out.
Kieran McMahon should start 1st.
Stephen Rooney a likely 2nd.
Pat Brady are all dead certs to play.
Paddy Tavey Might play 7th
Cathal Phelan 8th
Martin McClelland and Shane Phelan would be very lucky to feature in the one.
Will TJ's gamble on Manny Byrne taking on Kieran McMahon 1st? Probably not.
Paul Morgan possible 1st
If Stevie Teggart is available he has to play last. If not Declan McConville will probably play.
Eugene McDermott is in with a shout to start but Stevie Noades will be a spectator.
WHO'S IN FORM?
Tristan Byrne (TJ's A) has the longest unbeaten run of any player in both teams. But wait for it - it's only 3 games!
Incredible stat but true. He has won 7 from his last 8 league games though.
Cathal Phelan (CWC A) had won 4 in a row until he lost his last match against Hustlers.
Manny Byrne (TJ's A) has won 7 of his last 8 league games.
Raymie McKenna (TJ's A) and Paddy Clarke (CWC A) have both won 5 of their last 6 league games.
Stephen Rooney won 5 of his last 6 as well but missed a match in that run.
Laurence McAlinden has won 4 of his last 5 and 9 from 11.
Kieran McMahon (CWC) has won 6 of his last 8 league games.
Pat Brady (CWC A) won his 1st 8 but has 3 defeats in his last 5 league games.
Paul O'Callaghan (CWC A) has won 3 out of the last 4 which is identical to Paddy Tavey (CWC A) and Paul Morgan (TJ's A).
Jack Courtney and Declan McConville both TJ's A and Harvey Lavelle (CWC) are not going so well and are badly out of form lately. Declan McMahon (TJ's A) has missed as many as hes but he still nearly always wins when he turns up.
Until Carrickcruppen arrived after Christmas and beat CWC in the Working Mens Club, the league leaders looked untouchable at home. Their record at home is played 6 won 5 and lost 1. CWC A have generally been demolishing opponents at home. Two 7-1 wins and two 6-2 wins among their 5 victories.
TJ's have a decent AWAY record but by no means untouchable winning 4 out of their 6 with 1 loss and 1 draw. TJ's drew and lost 2 out of their opening 3 away games but have improved dramatically since then. 7-1 and 6-2 are their best results away from home but against teams at the bottom of the league.
The game will be played on a quick, good potting supreme table. The pockets will be more generous' so fast attacking games should be expected.
This match could obviously go either way. I could all be decided on who gets a ball down on their break. Manny Byrne, Laurence McAlinden and Raymie McKenna have all head break finishes this season whereas only Paul O'Callaghan has dished for CWC. Contrast that to Kieran Hanna who has 3 (I'm sure if it's more or less he will clarify).
The mind games have started with Paddy Clarke trying to wind up the TJ's lads and get inside their head. But it could easily backfire.
If the balls break clean TJ's can nick 2 vital points. If the games turn tactical CWC are likely to come out on top.
This will be a cracker either way.
Don't be afraid to let us know who you think will win "The big one". Let us know who you think will come out tops and please like and share our blog Thanks Your caring Blogger LOL.