Well here it is, the blog you have all been waiting for. It's the finals of the individuals and the previews of all the games and my tip for the winner of the much coveted trophy will be named here.
We got 12 of our 16 tips correct last time out and we tipped Harvey Lavelle and Pat Brady to take home the Dessie McGennity Memorial Pairs trophy.
SHANE McALLISTER v KARL McGUINNESS
The 'Group of Death' table is down to 4 fantastic players. Shane McAllister was brilliant last time out and never gave Declan McMahon a sniff. McMahon is a former overall individual winner and and is still regarded as 1 of the best players in the Newry Pool league. McAllister is definitely more attacking these days and is well capable of taking out those big finishes. He can also play the tactical game so he is tough to beat. He disposed of Paul Murphy (Bears) 2-0 and then McMahon (TJ's A) 2-0 so he won't be short on confidence.
His opponent Karl McGuinness has improved significantly over the past 2 seasons. He is a lethal potter and now has a tremendous tactical game for plan B. Undoubtedly his success is built on attacking pool. Break finishes are well within his capabilities. He is rightly among the favourites for the competition and will be fancy his chances against Shane McAllister. McGuinness hammered John Magee (McGuigan's A) 2-0 then a tight 2-1 win over a very good Seamus McGeoghegan (Sheepbridge A)
The Orchard ace Karl McGuinness is 9/2 while McGuigan's Shane McAllister is 10/1. These odds are to win the tournament and we reckon the bookies have it just about right. 10/1 is a generous price for McAllister but McGuinness should move take his place in the quarters after classic match.
DECLAN McCONVILLE v CATHAL PHELAN
TJ's A captain Declan 'Dodi' McConville is in the form of his life. He's never been playing as much pool as he has done lately. He only recently won a tour event in Omagh and won the South Armagh individuals last year. McConville isnt long home from Ennis where he captained the Armagh side to some brilliant wins and an unprecedented trip all the way to the 1/4 finals for the 1st time ever. They fell to a very good Louth side that reached the final. He also took some huge scalps in the singles event to make a real name for himself on the National stage.
Dodi McConville moved himself from last on the TJ's team sheet to 1st during the title run-in so he's not short on confidence. McConville is taking out the big finishes and his tactical play has improved immensely.
He did miss 'That' black in the Pairs that would have put himself and Declan McMahon into the semi-final but it's hard to imagine that will have any adverse effect on him.
McConville has had to dig deep to get this far. A 2-1 win over Gavin McNally and then he struggled against Martin McVeigh to another narrow 2-1.
Cathal Phelan has been widely tipped to win the event. This is largely based on exploits of days gone by. In his Corrinshego days Phelan was the 1 to beat. He has a phenomenal record in the singles event but the break finishes have almost dried up.
What the Whitecross player does possess is 1 of the best pool brains on the local scene. Great shot selection and tactics to tie you up in knots.
Cathal Phelan has had a smooth ride so far - taking out Brian O'Neill (Whitecross) and then Emmett Fearon (Killeavey) both 2-0
Declan McConville at 7/2 is favoured to lift the trophy while you can get Cathal Phelan at 5/1.
Calling a winner is exceptionally hard in this one. On a Supreme Pool table McConville would walk this but on TJ's tight pockets it closes that gap. McConville's best chance is attacking the table. If the frames turn messy Phelan will be favourite. The winner of this game has a great chance to make it to the final. McConville is playing out of skin lately while Phelan has been inactive in comparison so Declan McConville gets my vote in a titanic high quality match.
NIALL O'HARE v CONOR DULLAGHAN
Niall O'Hare is 1 of those players you just love to watch. His lovely cue action makes the game look so easy. Ok, that's when it all clicks. When O'Hare has an off day he is brutal. His tactical play is shocking. It really is all or nothing with 'Big Niall'. O'Hare has played youth and U23 international pool for N.Ireland so he will be used to playing pressure games.
The sharpshooter O'Hare has had 2 tough opponents so far. He beat Diamuird Lonergan (Sheepbridge A) 2-0 then Adrian Annett (TJ's D) also 2-0. Lonergan is a good tactical player and Annett an excellent attacking player so Niall O'Hare has done well against good players with contrasting styles.
Conor Dullaghan is the Darling of Gravue Hotel. He's single handedly put Omeath back on the map. Well him and cheap(er) diesel. The Granvue pool team are fairly new to the Newry and District Pool League but Dullaghan is no stranger to winning. He's had another terrific season in a tough Division 2. Let's not get carried away though. Dullaghan has lost his fair share too but that's to be expected when your quite new to the 1 frame league format.
The Omeath flag bearer is a very capable potter and although tactically he is behind the top players he could have enough in his locker to concern O'Hare.
Dullaghan had a good 2-0 win over Noel Bradley (McGuigan's C) then a very useful 2-0 win over Anthony Morgan (Hustlers) which we had Predicted.
Niall O'Hare is down to 8/1 with Pat Brady bookies and Conor Dullaghan is way out at 20/1 for the singles crown.
We reckon Conor Dullaghan can definitely cause problems for Niall O'Hare but after a tough 3 frames the favoured O'Hare should make the quarters
SEAMUS McVERRY v DAMIEN WOODS
Of all the ties in the last 16 this was the least likely pairing. Both these 2 rank outsiders have got here the hard way and will fancy their chances of making the 1/4 final. Seamus McVerry had a fairly decent campaign with his relegated Dan's C team. When in the groove McVerry is a quality player and can clear up a table with the minimum of fuss. He is prone to missing the odd easy pot and especially when the pressure is on. The South Armagh cueiest has a good safety game so that could make for very tight frames.
Seamus McVerry beat a useful Pat Byrne (Carrickcruppen) 2-1 then accounted for an in-form Kieran Hanna McGuigan's A 2-0.
Damien Woods has had the hardest route to the last 16. He's slugged away like an old boxer hanging there to bell before delivering the knockout blow. Woods is very good at turning scrappy frames in his favour. He has a good tactical brain so he is willing to go the distance with any opponent. He is happy to see opponents pot themselves into trouble. Woods won't buckle under pressure and his steady arm for the darts might be needed in this match.
Damien Woods beat Tristan Byrne 2-0 and then Barney Preece 2-1 so it's fair to say Woods loves playing against good attacking players.
Seamus McVerry 16/1 and Damien Woods 16/1 to lift the singles crown and to be honest neither has a hope in hell.
The bookies can't split them but I will. McVerry is unlikely to try for the big clearances from the start. That is going to make for long frames but the odd decent pot could swing it in favour of the Dan's C hero and McVerry to edge it 2-1.
KIERAN McMAHON v DAMIEN FLANAGAN
We can't have missed too many superlatives describing Kieran McMahon. Undoubtedly one of the best pool players ever to play in the Newry and District Pool League.
It is obvious he is a terrific potter. Arguably the best in the league. He is a tactical genius too. Can tie the game up and bleed the enthusiasm out of any opponent. One thing that you may not noticed is that he never wastes a shot. It may sound daft but every single shot has a purpose and moves him closer to the finish line.
Another big attribute is his ability to play the perfectly controlled cannon. Balls tied up or on the cushion won't be there for long and McMahon concentrates on the problem balls early.
McMahon will go for the big finish as soon as he believes it's on. It's the odd times these cannons don't work or a missed long pot that can leave the ginger Magician in trouble.
Kieran McMahon has had little problems thus far - stuffing Neill Heaney (Bears) 2-0 then beating a former overall individual winner Stephen Teggart (TJ's A) 2-0
Damien Flanagan knows what lies ahead for him. Great players like 'Soupy' Campbell and Kieran Hanna both of McGuigan's A will have Flanagan well drilled in what needs to be done to overcome McMahon. A wee phone call to Raymie McKenna and Karl McGuinness wouldn't go a miss either.
Flanagan is a good standard for a mid-table Premier Division club. The McGuigan's cueiest is a decent potter when he get going and can play a tactical game but he needs a lot of things to go right for him against Kieran McMahon. If McMahon right arm falls off then he's got a chance.
Damien Flanagan has ousted David Cromie (Orchard Bar) 2-0 and then Whitecross forgotten man Gareth McCann 2-1.
Kieran McMahon is 5/4 while if your feeling really lucky you can get Damien Flanagan at a miserable 22/1 to win the tournament outright.
Can Damien Flanagan hold his nerve and create a massive shock? It very unlikely. It's hard to argue a case unless McMahon gets complacent and maybe pot the black and then the white (twice).
JACK COURTNEY v HARVEY LAVELLE
This is the 2nd El Classico of the night. Premier Division winner verses Premier Division runner up.
Jack Courtney has a brilliant all round game. He's been knocking on the individuals door now for a few years and many have tipped him to go all the way this year.
Courtney is another player now going to other tournaments. He even reached a final of an Irish tour blackball tournament last year. His potting is very good and in amongst the balls his cue ball control is superb which is seeing him take out the big finishes. Courtney doesn't like to get involved in long tactical exchanges although he is fairly well equipped if it turns 'tippy tappy'.
Jack Courtney stuffed Seamus Graham (Dan's C) 2-0 in the 1st round then comfortably beat Niall McVerry (Sheepbridge) 2-0.
Harvey Lavelle already one of the most decorated players in the history of the Newry and District Pool League added the Pairs trophy for the 1st time to his Silverware collection last month. It was a long time coming and now he's out for the double.
Harvey Lavelle is the real deal. He has the full repertoire of shots, great cue ball control and nerves of steal. His clearance in the final of the Pairs to level the scores at 2-2 was sublime. That was Lavelle at his best.
His tactical game is up there with the best in the local game. If you miss your big finish against this ex-corrinshego legend then your goose is cooked. You won't get a 2nd chance.
Sometimes against the top players ie Manny Byrne and Kieran McMahon he tends to opt for a tactical frame and has been caught out so this will be worth keeping an eye on.
Harvey Lavelle has beaten Paul Hughes (Carrickcruppen) 2-1 and improved to beat Ciaran Hanna jnr (McGuigan's A) 2-0.
If you fancy a punt you can get Jack Courtney at 9/2 while Harvey Lavelle is 4/1.
These two met in the Vegas Cup and it was Lavelle that came up trumps. There's no doubting Courtney has the talent to win this match. He needs to win the mental battle before he can do it on the table. This will be a high quality game with the full mix of superb potting and good tactical exchanges but I still think it's a year too soon for Courtney and expect Lavelle to edge it 2-1.
MICKY CUNNINGHAM v LAURENCE McALINDEN
Micky Cunningham needs to roll back the years and turn in the performance of his life to earn a place in the 1/4 finals.
There's no doubting the Newry and District Pool League Secretarys' website has brought the local pool scene to a new level but can he bring his game to a new level? He is up against it here but he can cause an upset. Cunningham is unlikely to be able to go in all guns blazing and win this with outrageous pots and big finishes. He will try to keep it tight and force mistakes but when a finish presents itself the leagues supremo will go for it.
Cunningham's 1st instinct is to attack a game. The Hustlers ace will need to curtail these thoughts or he will get tied in knots. Cunningham has a decent safety game which should be to his benefit in this tricky tie.
Mickey Cunningham stuffed Darren McCloskey (Orchard Bar) 2-0 then repeated the scoreline against Ralph Cromie (Bears).
Laurence McAlinden has moved into the top tier of the best players in the Newry and District Pool League. They say winning is a habit - well Larry has that winning habit and then some! He had a phenomenal record for TJ's A this season again and recently beat a strong field (which included the holder Declan McConville) to win the South Armagh individuals. He beat one of the favourites Steven Rushe 5-1 in the final.
McAlinden should be brimming with confidence now. He has been nervous wreck at times so picking up trophies will help calm him. Larry will bring to the table a lovely array of potting and excellent cue ball control. He's taking out the big finishes which is why he's among the favourites. He has good shot selection and has a decent safety game to fall back on although his execution of tactical shots can be suspect on occasions.
Laurence McAlinden had nervy 2-0 win over Mike Nugent (Nan's Rams) then a hard fought victory over Thomas Hughes (Hustlers) 2-1.
Micky Cunningham can be got at 16/1 with Pat Brady bookies while Laurence McAlinden is a tempting 5/1.
We said at the outset that Micky Cunningham would need the performance of a life time to make it through to the last 8. Laurence McAlinden doesn't make many unforced errors and will take the game to Cunningham. The league Secretary needs a good tactical game to keep McAlinden out of his rhythm. The former Division 2 individual champion McAlinden is going to be hard to beat and anything other that a 2-0 win for the TJ's A talisman would be a surprise.
JASON LENNON v JIMMY O'HARE
Jason Lennon inspired TJ's D to the Division 1 league title via a play-off. From Christmas onwards he was pretty much flawless. Some of his performances had onlookers have compared him to TJ's A legend and N.Irish international Manny Byrne.
Lennon doesn't hang around. He creates openings and goes for the kill. He's a lethal potter. His long pots are hit with sniper accuracy. For a young player he knows the patterns and can out the big finishes.
Being the next big thing in TJ's brings it's own pressures. He should be ok there but his safety game is definitely in its embryonic stage. Lennon won't want to get bogged down in long tactical exchanges so it's going to be attack attack attack.
Jason Lennon accounted for Gerard Harte (Armagh/Down) 2-0 and then Manny Byrne's slayer Shane Durnin also Armagh/Down) 2-0.
Jimmy O'Hare won't need to read this to realise he's up against it. An experienced player O'Hare may be but not at the highest level. Jimmy O'Hare had a solid season playing in Division 1 with Nan's Rams.
O'Hare was good but not prolific this season. He wouldn't normally work to game plan, just play the balls. The Rams marksman has a fairly decent safety game and he will be banking on it come Thursday night. If the finish is on Jimmy won't be afraid to go for it. He's has good potting ability but his positional play can let him down.
Jimmy O'Hare progressed 2-0 against Alan Burke (Whitecross) and then a very good 2-0 win over young sharpshooter Daniel McGuigan (McGuigan's A) 2-0.
Jason Lennon can be backed at 10/1 and if you fancy the biggest outsider you can get Jimmy O'Hare at 22/1 which is a bit stingy to be honest.
The game itself is going to see Jason Lennon go for everything and just out pot his opponent. O'Hare will try to match him pot for pot at his pearl. Neither player has dropped at frame yet in the comp and it looks very likely the TJ's Magician Jason Lennon will inflict the 1st 2 on Jimmy O'Hare in a comfortable 2-0 win.
Possible last 8
Karl McGuinness v Declan McConville
Niall O'Hare v Seamus McVerry
Kieran McMahon v Harvey Lavelle
Laurence McAlinden v Jason Lennon
What potential tie Karl McGuinness v Declan McConville would be on table 1. Any 2 that the 4 on table 1 could progress to the 1/4 finals. The bookies fancy McConville and we think he has a tough job getting to the semis but he's the 2nd favourite for a good reason.
Niall O'Hare will replace Seamus McVerry as a Premier Division player next season. O'Hare will get a tough game if he meets McVerry. O'Hare's exceptional potting should see him make the semi.
Kieran McMahon verses Harvey Lavelle is a repeat of the final a couple of years ago. Lavelle tried the tactical approach but McMahon matched him and bettered him in every department. Could be a repeat as McMahon should squeeze through to the last 4.
Laurence McAlinden will face stablemate Jason Lennon if both make it through the last 16. Both brilliant potters this could be one of the games of the night. Surely McAlinden with his tactical knowledge would edge a close classic encounter.
This is what we think here on the blog will be Semi /final line up
Declan McConville v Niall O'Hare
Kieran McMahon v Laurence McAlinden
Declan McConville v Kieran McMahon
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Good luck to all the players taking part from us here on the blog.