The top 4 teams went head to head in the Premier Division on Thursday night. The top 5 teams were only separated by 3 points at the start of play so this was an important as well as exciting night of Premier Pool.
TJ's A travelled out to Orchard in a potential banana skin but there is only one place to start our blog and that is Whitecross verses the unbeaten league leaders CWC A.
CWC may have been ko'd from a cup but have dropped only 1 point in the league so far. Their star studded line-up have individuals winners in the Newry and South Armagh leagues. Pat Brady, Paul O'Callaghan, Cathal Phelan, Harvey Lavelle and Kieran McMahon have all won singles titles and most of them are multiple champions. Paddy Clarke is a player who has been touted as the best player in the league. Whitecross players rarely get past the 2nd round of the singles so that shows the gulf in class.
James Toner has turned a few heads this season for Whitecross but CWC ace potter Kieran McMahon was a bridge too far and the 'Ginger Magician' put the league leaders 1-0 up.
Martin O'Callaghan was bang on form for the hosts when he cleared from Harvey Lavelle's break. O'Callaghan has been patchy this season so this was a massive win for him and his Whitecross team 1-1.
CWC edged back in front when ex-Whitecross cueist Shane Phelan took on self proclaimed Tornado Michael Feenan. The wind was blowing in favour of Phelan and he continued his good recent form to put CWC in front while Feenan suffered yet another defeat.
Gareth McCann had the unenviable task of inflicting a 1st league defeat of the season on Paddy Clarke. Clarke, a native of Ballymena was unbeaten since his return from exile. McCann played some brilliant pool and while Clarke wasn't at his best it was the Brilliant McCann that levelled the scores for Whitecross at the half way mark. 2-2
A shock result was on the cards when the little-known Noel Donaldson upset the odds to beat the quality of Paul 'Bunty' O'Callaghan. Bunty wasn't at his best but Donaldson was on fire as he shot Whitecross into a 3-2 lead.
Captain of CWC showed his class and nerve to square up the match at 3-3. Brian O'Neill has a few wins this season but Brady is a machine and it was all to play for again.
The pressure was on CWC's dream team now and Joseph McTaggart had Niall McVerry on the ropes. McVerry showed that bit of class to squeeze his side into a 4-3 lead and the champions elect would surely push on a claim maximum points from an average Whitecross squad.
Whitecross have a star of their own though in Mickey O'Hanlon. He's easily been their most consistent player over the past 2 seasons. Ex-Whitecross player Cathal Phelan was obviously hot favourite to seal the 2 points for CWC A. Pre-season relegation favourites Whitecross have proved that it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
O'Hanlon is as dogged as they come and he was able to scrap out an incredible win over Phelan to share the spoils.
The Whitecross team spirit shone through and it's great to see captain Gavin Malone realise that he's better at captaining the team than he is playing in the team.
It was up to TJ's A to see if they could capitalise on the CWC slip up.
Jack Courtney gave the invicible's the perfect start when he defeated a tactical Diamuird Lonergan in the Orchard Bar.
It was all square thanks to the impressive Karl McGuinness. He gave Raymie McKenna a rare defeat and the hosts looked set to give TJ's their usual tough game out the Rathfriland Road.
PJ McDaniel is no bad player but the new Orchard Bar signing was way out of his depth against the silky Manny Byrne and some top drawer potting put TJ's back in front 2-1.
Charlie Broughton is a fine potter and loves to go game but that played into Stevie Noade's hands and Noade mopped up for 3-1.
Tristan Byrne was potting fantastic again and Mervyn Kernaghan couldn't prevent TJ's going 4-1 up and within a frame of maximum points.
Old team mates Joe Poucher and Eugene McDermott clashed in the biggest frame of the night. Poucher would have fancied his chances but McDermott is still one of the finest potters in Newry and the ex-snooker player sewed up both points for TJ's A.
Lee Irvine and Laurence McAlinden was a high quality frame for a dead rubber but the TJ's captain McAlinden made it 6-1 with a good finish.
Surely the stage was set for Declan McConville to end his horrendous run especially now that Orchard Bar had give it up as a bad night on the baize. But no 'Dodi' hadn't banked on the experienced Brendan Devlin actually trying and it was more misery for McConville as Devlin grabbed a consolation frame for Orchard for a final score of 6-2 TJ's A.
When Carrickcruppen raced in to a 3-0 lead it looked like they were going to end their embarrassingly bad run of form.
Ciaran Hanna did Daddy proud by putting Carrickcruppen 1-0 up. Daddy Hanna (Kieran) showed junior that he can still show the cub a thing or 2 when he doubled the Cruppen lead. Neil Heaney had a shocking miss to the middle pocket and Hanna cleared for another brush this season.
Jamie Lavelle got back to winning ways for Cruppney which is vital for the South Armagh side. Adrian 'Oz' Holman went 'in off' to gift Lavelle 2 shots on an easy black.
Bears had jigged their team about after their own slump in form in November. It looked like a massive own goal when Paul Murphy, Neill Heaney and Adrian Holman suffered their early losses.
Seamus Keenan and Pat Byrne are polar opposite players. Byrne is possibly the quickest, most attack minded player in the Newry Pool league while Keenan plays like a snail in slow motion, relying on tactical play to win most games. As it turned out Keenan showed that the snail beats the Hare to the finish line and Bears were back in it at 3-1.
Two super reliable players Garry Powell and Anthony Morgan tied up the match after great wins over a dissapointing Martin McVeigh and Barry McAllister. McAllister played a bad shot on a black ball fight and Morgan sunk a good black.
Carrickcruppen were stunned when Paddy O'Callaghan inexplicably potted the black while getting out of a snooker that he'd put himself in. Eddie Heaney was happy to claim the win and it was 4-3 Bears.
Sean McKevitt was favoured to wrap up the points but taxi man John Brannigan arrived in the nick of time to rescue a point for Carrickcruppen who were in dire need of a result of any kind. Brannigan was calm under pressure and finished well under pressure.
There's no doubting the fact that only for the 2 Hanna's Carrickcruppen would be below the already 'Gone' Killeavy. Hanna needs to take his whole squad in for some one to one in his office to sort the heads out.
Hustlers recorded a very good win against a resurgent Sheepbridge.
Kevin Magee won again for Hustlers followed by Damian 'Diddles' McArdle and Barry Murphy made it 3-0 to the Bellinis based side.
Barry Duffy won a good tussle against Bernie Magee to pull it back to 3-1 Hustlers.
Sheepbridge had high hopes of Seanie Markey reducing the arrears even further but Billy O'Neill denied Markey that chance to make it 4-1.
Shane McAllister started the season like a player possessed but his slump in form continued when Brendan Markey dragged Sheepbridge back into the match at 4-2.
Damien Kearney returned from exile for Hustlers. It's his 1st league game since he infamously chipped the white ball into the pocket. Luckily for Hustlers he was in form and won the match when he defeated Pat Kearns.
Ciaran Morgan won the final frame when he beat Ciaran O'Neill to finish the match 5-3 to Hustlers.
Check out the website for the updated league tables