The Presentation night is only days away and because we are the most popular blogged pool league in Newry and the most visited website in the City we have decided to dish out our very own prizes. Unlike the Newry Pool League we won't be handing out thousands in cash and trophies galore. No we will be giving you a mention in our blog which is something far more prestigious.
We will pick our team of the year
Our 'surprise package' team of the year
Young Player of the year
Most improved player of the year
Player of the year
Young Player Of The Year
Jamie Fletcher (Boyds)
Gerard Bagnall (Glenn Social Club)
Most Improved Player Of The Year
Paddy Tavey (CWC A)
Ciaran O'Neill (Hustlers)
Niall Connolly (Dan's)
Mal Maguire (Nan's Rams)
Team of the year
Player Of The Year
Paddy Clarke (CWC A)
Pat Brady (CWC A)
Shanel Phelan (Whitecross)
Robbie Loughran (Nifty Fifty)
The Surprise Package of Year candidates all performed over and beyond the call of duty. They produced far more than what was expected of them and ruffled a few feathers along the way
HUSTLERS battled hard in a fascinating scrap to claim 2nd place in the Premier Division. Trainors, Dan's and Orchard Bar were right in the mix but Hustlers saw them all off. A semi-final in the Cunningham Cup was followed up with trip to the Premier Division Cup final where they came up short against a ruthless CWC A. Players like Kevin Magee, Cathal McCoy and Micky Cunningham are the experienced players but cud'nt stop CWC A in the quest for glory. Damien Kearney got off to a flying start,then had a nightmare end to the season' Shane McAllister was solid as a rock and Ciaran O'Neill was simply outstanding. Philip Murphy had a nightmare start but some of his stunning finishes at the end of the season were crucial for Hustlers.
St MONINNA performed miracles this year despite having one of the smallest squads in all 3 Divisions. They played most of the season with just 9 players and although the squad was strengthened from last season, very very little was expected of them. The Saints hovered just above mid-table for most of the season before a late surge nearly got them in hunt for promotion. They also played some brilliant pool to get to the Division 1 Cup final where they got well beaten by Nan's.
Nifty Fifty are a newly formed team in Division 2 and considering Forester's had so many teams this Nifty side did well to stand firm in the face of adversity when so many around them were bailing out. Nifty Fifty finished 5th from bottom but collected 8 wins and finished with a very respectable 19 points. If that wasn't good enough they upset their Division 2 counter-parts by sensationally booking their place in the Division 2 Cup final against McSwiggan's where they came up short in one of the best finals in years.
CAVERN BAR are the final team in the Surprise Package of the year category.. They had stiff competition from Dan's Rebels who had a fantastic season and McSwiggan's Bar who upset the odds to win the Division 2 Cup final. Dan's Rebels had a terrific season finishing 3rc and McSwiggan's had a decent league campaign and are very unlucky not to make our shortlist for surprise package. But with players like Henry McLoughlin in their ranks they were expected to be competitive.
Cavern Bar were a team in decline until this season. Somehow they managed to turn it around and gain promotion out of an incredibly tough Division 2 thanks to players like captain Mathew Cregan, Joe Campbell, Martin Reavey and Joe Byrne. Damien Campbell, Damon Murphy and Stephen Byrne played vital roles in their promotion.
Young Player of The Year
Two outstanding talents spring to mind.
JAMIE FLETCHER from Boyds and GERARD BAGNALL from Glenn.
Jamie Fletcher is not only a superb golfer but he taking after Richard and Kris on the Green Baize. Young Fletcher is a good all rounder. Excellent potting has seen him become one of the most exciting players in Division 1 and his strong safety game has made him very tough to best. Can he step up and help Boyds to the next level?
Gerard Bagnall was good last year but he's been even better this year. He has been taking out brilliant finishes all season and helped Glenn become a competitive team. Bagnall and Turley had good wins in the Pairs and hopefully Bagnall can inspire his team to a promotion battle next season.
Most Improved Player
PADDY TAVEY (CWC A) couldn't get a game for CWC at the start of last season and now he's one of the first names on Pat Brady's team sheet. There is no doubt whatsoever Tavey has upped his game and stepped up to the plate. He always had a decent tactical game but his break finishing and exciting potting has been a joy to watch and turned him into one of the best players in the league. 17 wins from 21 games puts Paddy Tavey in the elite bracket which included a break finish in his final league game. A run to the final of Pairs and 1/4 final of the singles shows Tavey should be one of the most feared pool players in Newry and almost made our Player Of The Year category.
CIARAN O'NEILL (Hustlers) has been consistent over this past few seasons but he deserves a mention in the most improved category. He has moved up into the top bracket now. O'Neill only lost 5 league games all season but his 15 wins propelled Hustlers into 2nd place in the league and further wins took his Bellinis side to the Premier Division Cup final.
NIALL CONNOLLY (Dan's A) made the shortlist but after sifting through his results it's hard to know why. He must have been awful last season. Either that or it's because he acquired a new cue which is going to help him dominate the local pool scene for years to come. Connolly won his last 4 games in the 2nd round of fixtures including a win v CWC A. The card against Trainors was late in and so I've no record of the win/loses but 2 more wins could mean he won 7 in a row. Connolly is a terrific potter and playing for Armagh will help his tactical game. The best has yet to come from Niall Connolly.
MAL MAGUIRE won 9 of his 1st 10 league games and he carried on that rich vein of form for the whole season. Maguire was a bit hit and miss last season but when he could see this team had the same ambitions as himself he stepped it up a gear. An excellent tactician Maguire potted to new levels and his reward was a league and Divisional Cup double.
Team Of The Year
CWC A look like they going to do the clean sweep this season. The league, Premier Division Cup and Vegas Cup are all in the bag and only Whitecross on Thursday night can stop the quartet of top trophies heading to CWC A. CWC won 17 or their 21 games. 2 wins and 2 draws the only blemish on a perfect season so far. Two 8-0 wins and four 7-1 wins left some teams with some serious soul searching. Spare a thought for Ballybolland and Whitecross who both only took 4 frames off the champions in 3 league games.
NAN'S RAMS had a decent team to start the campaign but they surpassed all expectations in a brilliant season. Only 2 defeats from their 21 league games is amazing in such a tough Division. 4 draws and 15 wins was enough to seal a play-off against McGuigan's. The Rams looked to be cruising but a few dropped points then defeat to McGuigan's smashed the title race wide open. Nan's showed their class and courage by thrashing McGuigan's in the play-off then went on to demolish 3rd placed St. Moninna in the Division 1 Cup final. Mal Maguire, Mark Pentony, Leigh McAlinden, Pat McClenaghan, Stephen Sherry, Rony O'Reilly, Andrew Chan, Mark Maguire and Jimmy O'Hare should feel confident of holding their own in the Premier Division next season.
CWC B were definitely one of the fancied teams in Division 2 but they just blew the opposition clean out of the water. There's not many team go a whole league campaign unbeaten but this brilliant CWC B joined Ballyhollond in an elite group to finish the bottom tier undefeated. Only 5 draws against them all season is a fantastic record. They'll be disappointed to have lost out in the semi-final of the Division 2 Cup but to go a whole league campaign unbeaten is phenomenal. Captain Barry Kelland never let the guard drop and had star player Tommy Rooney in top form all season. Kieran Cunningham and his son Chris were fantastic. Paul Kelland, Raymie Sands and Seamus McKeown were superb. Cailum McParland improved immensely and Kieran Cummins was his usual assured self.
Player Of The Year
PADDY CLARKE raised the bar in this season's individuals. One missed pot in a 4-3 win over Pat Brady is sensational pool. Watching Clarke is poetry in motion. Clarke looks on course to bag the top 4 team trophies with CWC A too. His 8 league wins and 5 defeats isn't ground breaking stuff. Paddy Clarke narrowly lost out in the last 8 of the Pairs to eventual winners Cathal and Shane Phelan. It really has been a season to remember for Paddy Clarke.
PAT BRADY will be very disappointed he didn't go through the whole season with 21 wins from 21 games. On 19 wins from 19 games Mike Nugent comes along in the penultimate league game of the season to break and dish Brady to end the 'Perfect 21' dream. CWC A captain Brady is 1 trophy away from taking all 4 team trophies and his final defeat to Paddy Clarke will live long in the memory as one of the best ever.
SHANE PHELAN took the Whitecross captaincy when the South Armagh side looked destined for relegation from the Premier Division. Whitecross were rudderless and in big trouble when former captain Gavin Malone stepped aside. Shane Phelan took over at the helm and but for their poor start would have gave 2nd place a good rattle. Phelan led by example. He top scored for Whitecross with 16 wins and only 5 defeats. That is Premier Division winning stats. Shane Phelan then guided Whitecross to the prestigeous Cunningham Cup final. To top that all off he went on to win the Pairs with his brother Cathal in an incredible night and maybe, just maybe Shane can mastermind a Cunningham Cup final win over former team CWC A.
ROBBIE LOUGHRAN might be a surprise candidate on our Player Of The Year shortlist. But the player of the year doesn't have to be the best player. Robbie Loughran lit up this year's Individuals competition battling his way to the 1/4 final. His biggest scalp being that of the formidable Stevie Teggart. Loughran hails from newly formed Nifty Fifty who play out of Forester's in Division 2. Loughran had a good steady season and he played his part in making Nifty Fifty a competitive team. He is ice cool under pressure and helped guide his unfancied side to the Division 2 Cup final where they lost out in an epic battle against McSwiggan's. Loughran can inspire his Nifty Fifty side up the table next season and maybe into a promotion scrap.
We'll pick our winners in the next day or two. If you think anyone needs a mention just tag them on Facebook and they might just get a mention in our next blog.
Thanks for reading our blogs all year everyone. It's thanks to you readers that we are the biggest blog in the City we promise to keep delivering for you.
Don't forget the presentation night is this Friday night. The season is nearly over after another amazingly successful season.
Teams like McSwiggan's will pick up their first ever trophy. Sheepbridge surprised everyone to get to the Vegas Cup final. Cavern Bar, Nan's, McGuigan's, Nifty Fifty Whitecross, Hustlers and of course CWC A have all prizes to lift on the night. The Newry Pool League just Never ceases to amaze.
And with more teams entering next season as well as our league going full Blackball rules there is exciting times ahead.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for the winners of The Bloggers Top Prizes in the next day or two .And remember lads new season comming soon so keep tuning in and Thanks from Newry Pool League Blogger.
(Oh Ps) Still cant believe after all this time blogging im still anonymous.Cheers lads.