Hustlers have drawn 1st blood in the battle for the Premier Division title. If the Newry and District Vegas Pool league is between 2 teams then Hustlers have landed the 1st big blow as they came from behind to salvage a draw against TJ's A in this classic encounter.
Last season Hustlers were a work in progress. They spent most of the season floating around the relegation zone. Despite struggling, the Bellinis based side were the only team to beat quadruple winners TJ's A.
In fact they remain the only team in over 2 full seasons to have beaten TJ's A.
Hustlers got their tactics right on Thursday night. They lured TJ's A into a trap and they grabbed the bait with both hands. Hustlers sent their 2 weakest players out 1st and captain Laurence McAlinden duly obliged by taking the 1st frame off a dissapointing Kevin Magee.
Possibly it's a bit harsh to say Damian 'Diddles' McArdle is one of Hustlers' weak players but his erratic style is perfect for TJ's to exploit and Raymond McKenna had little problems making it 2-0 TJ's A
Hustlers have a wee gem in Ciaran O'Neill. He's a good tidy cueist and can see a finish.
Nerves can be a factor with him sometimes but not on Thursday night as he beat a lack lustered Stevie Noade in the crucial 3rd frame and Hustlers were back in it at 2-1.
League Secretary Micky Cunningham wasn't given a prayer against the superb multiple individuals champion Declan McMahon. This turned out a very one sided indeed.
But McMahon who was left red faced as Micky Cunningham turned on the style to brush the embarrassed McMahon. It was a big frame and now the pressure was on TJ's at 2-2.
Hustlers were now relishing the task in front of them. Shane McAllister was taking on Manny Byrne and both players had won 2 from 2 so far, so something had to give. McAllister played a brilliant frame at it was the Hustlers star player that kept his 100% record and fire his side 3-2 up with 3 to play.
Bernie Magee was a shrewd signing for Hustlers. His experience and knowledge of the game is up there with the best of them. He was taking on Tristan Byrne and anyone who saw his finish on Facebook can only stand and applaud. It was an excellent, controlled finish and he drew the game level at 3-3.
Damien Kearney is currently taking screw-back lessons after his calamitous miss on Thursday night. Attempting a screw shot Kearney skimmed his chosen ball and the white chipped into the air and dropped into the pocket. Leaving Opponent
Eugene McDermott laughing all the way to the black and was never going to let the opportunity pass and McDermott made it 4-3 TJ's A.
This Hustlers team are made of sterner stuff than last season. There's more togetherness and a team spirit now. Of course when Declan McConville misses a cut on the black to the middle then that helps your cause too. McConville reckons he got a kick we all know thats not true some of his team mates were heard saying its a good kick he needs . We're going to leave it for another week or 2 before we really have a go at him. Cathal McCoy played some great pool again and when McConville missed the black McCoy who we know only plays once a week was on hand to show the international TJ's ex-captain who plays 7 nights a week how it's done to draw the match in a tension filled finale 4-4.
The question now was would CWC A take advantage of the TJ's A slip. The Bravelle's hit the ground running smashing the 1st 4 frames to tranquilise the Bears.
Kieran McMahon fired CWC A into the lead up in the Windmill. Garry Powell the victim this week.
Cathal Phelan made it a personal tally of 3 wins from 3 when he beat Ralf Crummy to make it 2-0.
Paul O'Callaghan and Harvey Lavelle doubled the CWC lead to 4-0. Eddie Heaney and Adrian Holman the tamed Bears and 2pts away from home were almost in the bag for CWC.
Shane Phelan had the chance to wrap thing up for the visitors but Sean McKevitt was in inspired form and the latter reduced the deficit to 4-1.
It was just postponing the inevitable as Pat Brady sowed up the 2pts in the 6th frame with a comfortable win over a useful Neil Heaney.
Paddy Heaney and Seamus Keenan put some respectability on the scoreline with good wins over Thomas Hughes and Seamus McGeoghegan.
Whitecross you boys took one hell of a beating. Orchard Bar had the long spin out to South Armagh where they took on a Whitecross side that is very much in disarray.
Captain Gavin Malone has been very quiet on social media lately so it seems he knows the task in front of him is a monumental one.
Orchard raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to the superb Karl McGuinness, Joe Poucher and a decent Charlie Broughton. Gareth McCann, Joseph McTaggart and James Toner all going down on their home table with a whimper.
Whitecross threatened a comeback when the usually reliable Martin O'Callaghan and the self proclaimed Tornado Michael Feenan actually brought the talk to the table. Diamuird Lonergan and Brendan Devlin the 2 experienced campaigners tasting defeat.
At 3-2 in arrears Whitecross had the perfect player coming on next Mickey O'Hanlon was brilliant last season but despite his best efforts he couldn't prevent Mervyn Kernaghan winning a gripping 4th frame for Orchard Bar who now led 4-2.
Debutant Noel Donaldson was tasked with keeping Whitecross in the game. He looked all set with 2 shots but passed up on a glorious opportunity and Ritchie Crawford won 2 valuable points for Orchard Bar who have now won 2 from 2 after sitting out their bye.
Lee Irvine rubbed salt in the Whitecross wounds when he brushed aside Brian O'Neill to make it a resounding 6-2 scoreline.
Why Captain left himself out of that team is bemusing. The South Armagh side need to start picking up points soon or they'll be relegated by Christmas.
Carrickcruppen got back to winning ways when they had a good home win over a very bad McGuigan's A. Tommy Lavelle and super son Jamie Lavelle gave Carrickcruppen a 2-0 home lead. Jamie giving Terry McNally his 1st defeat of the season in the process.
Brian Campbell and Damien Flanagan are 2 very experienced players and their knowledge was key to them squaring the match 2-2 at the half way point.
Martin McVeigh and Ciaran Hanna jnr got Carrickcruppen flowing again and took them 2 in front again at 4-2.
Paddy O'Callaghan was playing Dusty O'Hagan and unluckily for McGuigan's O'Hagan was terrible and he handed O'Callaghan the points on a plate and a 5-2 scoreline for Carrickcruppen. Aaron O'Callaghan lost the final frame dead rubber against Paul McAreavey. 5-3 win for Cruppen keeps them well up the table and look good for a place in mid-table.
TJ's Tigers got their 1st points of the season when the hammered a very weak Sheepbridge.
Nicky Irwin got the ball rolling when he beat Sheepbridge hero Seanie Markey. The Bowling Ally side looked like they could make a game of it when the experienced Pat Kearns defeated the youthful attacking Gavin McNally.
Richie Taylor had a good win over Gwyn Trainor and that was a big set back for Sheepbridge.
Leading 2-1 the Tigers roared to the finish line mauling the awful Sheepbridge. Adrian Annett and Jason Lennon put TJ's 4-1 up thanks to easy wins over Barry Duffy and Johnny McAvoy.
Matty Cartmill nailed the 2 points with a good win over the legendry Conor Quinn for 5-1.
Sean Rice and big Davy Hanna piled on the pain for Sheepbridge when they made it 7-1. Kevin Quinn is a good potter but made it easy for Sean Rice and Mark Hughes fell to Hanna.