Last year's winner Seamus McVerry has been dumped by Richie Taylor and only Jack Courtney remains out of last year's semi-finalist. Such is the talent in the local pool scene that neither of 2015 finalists James O'Hagan (winner) nor Raymie McKenna (runner-up) made it past the 1st round this season.
Still though all the bookies favourites are very much still in the hunt. Kieran McMahon 3/1 and Manny Byrne 4/1 are among the top players hoping to regain a trophy they've both held on numerous occasions.
Jack Courtney 7/1 and Tristan Byrne 8/1 are two of the best players never to have lifted the Singles crown and will fancy their chances of progressing.
Declan McMahon 6/1, Harvey Lavelle 8/1 and Pat Brady 7/1 could open up a stall in Newry Market they have that much Silverware between them and they are all still in the hunt to add to their collection. This stall in Newry Market would be a great idea too because keyboard Kings like Michael Feenan, Gavin Malone, Paul Hughes and Paddy McMahon could all come and see what a real trophy looked like!
MICKY CUNNINGHAM v BYE
Micky Cunningham was meant to play Ciaran Hanna Jnr but after they're exit from the Pairs, Hanna Junior decided to take Daddys advice and pull himself from the Singles for no reason; his loss not micky cunninghams.
Micky Cunningham is playing superb pool lately. He's had tough games so far, beating Ciaran Morgan jnr in the last round and Richie Crawford in round 1. The league Secretary is doing a brilliant job running the pool but can he add to his trophy cabinet? Cunningham is strong in amongst the balls and tactically he is very good. He knows the right shots to play. He will develop his balls before going for a big finish.
Micky Cunningham would probably have beaten young Ciaran Hanna using his superior knowledge of the game and he can now sit back as everyone else battles for their place in the last 16.
ADRIAN ANNETT v KARL McGUINNESS
This going to be a high quality match no doubt about that. Both players like to attack but both are intelligent players and have good tactical knowledge of the game.
Adrian Annett is one of these new young breed of player that love to come in and pot you off the table. Annett has beaten 2 very experienced players in Bud Flanagan and Seamus Keenan previously. Needless to say he is a terrific potter. He needs to get in amongst the balls and he will clear. He'll happily play cannons to clear the frame. Positional play is pretty good but can let him down from time to time. Tactically he's not too bad but that's not a route Annett will want to go down.
Karl McGuinness is always among favourites for the Singles title. His toughest game so far was against Liam Bradley so this is his 1st big test. McGuinness does all his best work with the balls out in the open and he his one of the best at clearing up. Long pots are pretty good. Pressure should not be a problem but it's time a player of his talent was getting deeper in the individuals competition.
McGuinness has been playing at the top level for a lot longer than Adiran Annett. This could be significant in a game were small margins could be crucial. Annett is definitely one of the better players in the ranks of TJ's Tigers but the man who beats Kieran McMahon for fun - aka Karl McGuinness, should be just that bit more clinical and the Orchard player is our tip in a 3 frame classic.
MANNY BYRNE v LEE IRVINE
This is the 1st time Manny Byrne has met a player in this year's individuals that will cover a pocket. Byrne is unlikely to adapt his style as he was mesmerising in his last match against Raymie McKenna smashing in 2 unbelievable break finishes. Byrne just loves attacking the game, developing balls and playing cannons. No ball is safe with Manny Byrne at the table. Byrne is a seasoned international and was recently crowned Co.Down champion beating a quality field in Regal Pool club in Portadown.
Lee Irvine wont be going for break finishes that we can be sure of. Irvine has different qualities and they work for him. He will slow the game down and try to drag Byrne from of his comfort zone. We've said it before and we'll say it again - Irvine is a fine potter so if the chances arise he will be calm and precise and can run out a good finish.
If the balls break kindly for Manny Byrne then he will cruise this. Lee Irvine should give him a better game than some would imagine but still 2-0 is a sensible bet in favour of the TJ's talisman Manny Byrne.
BERNIE MAGEE v DAVID CROMIE
Two experienced players finish off proceedings on Table 1. Can Bernie Magee bring back the glory days of yesteryear? Magee is a master tactician. If his arm can do precisely what his brain is telling it then the former Corrinshego legend is onto a winner. There's no hiding away from the fact his cue ball control and razor sharp potting is not as deadly as it used to be but you can never question his bottle or determination. Magee is battle hardened but even though he is a tactical legend if he can open the table and get in amongst the balls he can still clear up.
This is David Cromie's 1st Premier Division opponent of the Singles competition. He is stepping up in class now but because this is going to turn into a fudge fest then anybody can win it. Cromie is more than happy to block pockets and drag a game into the swamps with re-spotted blacks a normal occurrence. Cromie won't get too excited going for 3 or 4 ball runs. Pot one, safety. Pot another one, safety. Cromie knows his limitations and because he doesn't take many risks he can be difficult to beat.
This is going to be a war of attrition. If these frames finish before the buzzer goes off then it will be the more naturally talented Bernie Magee that progresses.
RAPHAEL CRUMMY v MIKE NUGENT
The bald eagle Ralph Crummy is still soaring high and is one of two Bears players still in the hunt for individual honours. Ralph beat the very talented Niall McVerry in the last round and that is no mean feat. We all know Ralph loves attacking pool. He will take on the big finishes. He has been a major reason in Bears having such a good season and is an inspirational figure head in his team. His positional play like most players can be his downfall but because he is a tremendous potter he always has that chance of finishing a game. If he needs to shots he is very handy at getting them. His knowledge of the game is good and his shot selection is never far away.
Mike Nugent sent team make Pat McClenaghan packing in the last round. Nugent won't get flustered and is calm around the balls. His safety game is tight which might come in handy against Crummy. Nugent is a good potter and and it will be interesting to see him move up a standard or 2 against a very good Premier Division player.
Raphael Crummy can be a deadly finisher and although Mike Nugent will use a safety game to his benefit it's the Bears potting machine that should prevail.
PADDY TAVEY v KIERAN McMAHON
We can expect to see a good tactical battle in this game. Unlike Bernie Magee v David Cromie over on table 1 this will be a high class battle of 2 quality player. Every shot will have a 'means to an end'. Both players will try to develop the game in their favour fairly quickly.
Somebody says Paddy Tavey gets all the handy draws. He beat talented team mate Paddy Clarke and now faces multiple overall individual winner and team mate Kieran McMahon. Paddy Tavey has gained lots of good experience lately and alot of the negativity that was holding him back has dissapeared. He's held down a spot on that CWC team playing some brilliant pool and also digging out wins when not playing so good. Confident, great potter and tactically strong mean Tavey is a game for anyone.
Kieran McMahon is many people's favourite for the title. Arguably the best single ball potter in the league. McMahon prefers to play the perfect positional shot and leave any pot before he will play a cannon which differs him from Manny Byrne. Needless to say when McMahon needs to play a cannon he does it with skill and accuracy. In amongst the balls he probably has no equal. McMahon knows his angles and is hard to get 2 shots off. Brilliant tactical knowledge of the game means he's hard to beat even in scrappy frames.
Kieran McMahon has rode his luck in a lot of games this season. Some people say he's the luckiest player in the league. Paddy Tavey is going to need the luck if he is to progress. McMahon is lethal if he hits form and he is the obvious favourite to see the last 16.
BRENDAN DEVLIN v PADDY O'CALLAGHAN
it's hard to imagine this game going 20mins and that's even if it goes all 3 frames. Neither player like to hang about dithering over shot selection.
Orchard player Brendan Devlin helped his team to the Divisional Cup final and will be confident of making it to the final night of the singles event. Devlin had an excellent win over a talented Terry McNally last time out. Brendy is a superb potter and know his way around a finish. Good shot selection and can sink a long pot comfortably. Devlin can play a snooker when needed as his tactical game is sound. Brendan Devlin is a quick thinker and will go for the game and is a quality player.
Paddy O'Callaghan is one of the quickest players around the table. For a big lad he can fairly move. Some people say he'd fairly move a chicken burger but we won't comment on that. Being an Arsenal fan means he's used to not winning which is probably why he joined Carrickcruppen. O'Callaghan though is an excellent potter and has been taking out big finishes all season. He loves to go straight for the kill and won't want dragged into a tactical battle. Sometimes his great potting makes up for his strange shot selection. Not renowned for his safety but unlikely to need it on this occasion.
This is going all the way. The pool fans are in for a treat and this shouldn't take too long to sort out. If it's just a potting session then Paddy O'Callaghan could edge this. Write Brendan Devlin off at your pearl but O'Callaghan is more likely to take out the early clearance.
TRISTAN BYRNE v SHANE PHELAN
This looks like a cracking draw. It's deposed league champion verses newly crowned league champion.
These two seem to meet on a regular basis and it is a rematch that won't fill Shane Phelan with much reason to be optimistic. Brendan McCabe and Sean Rice have offered very little competition for Byrne who hasn't had to get out of 2nd gear so far. Tristy is many people's tip and is one of the best players never to have won the overall individuals. He is an exciting, attacking player with plenty of international experience. Byrne won't hang about, developing balls and going for an early finish are a specialty. Byrne is one of the best in the league when playing positional shots. Sometimes it looks like he has the white ball on a string.
Shane Phelan will be delighted to have won his 1st ever Premier Division winners trophy but also dissapointed with the game time he received. He is a quality player and has a fantastic win rate with CWC. Phelan beat Barry McAllister in the previous round. He improved a lot this season playing with top quality team mates. Phelan is well capable of taking out big finishes. He will try to free up tricky balls before going for the kill and covering pockets is no problem for him. He is not immune to missing the odd ball but when he's on form he's a delight to watch.
Shane Phelan is never going to out pot Tristan Byrne. Byrne is no dozer in a tactical battle but this is the most likely way Phelan can win. 4 times league winner Byrne should be too classy here again and it's hard to forsee a shock especially since the games will be played in Byrne's home venue.
LEIGH McALINDEN v JASON LENNON
Leigh McAlinden is enjoying a cracking run in the Singles and had a brilliant win over high flying Whitecross player Noel Donaldson in the last round. McAlinden is a smart player. He is not renowned for smashing in big finishes but he can tie you up in knots. It takes McAlinden time to warm into a game and he thrives on mistakes made by his opponent. He is superb at covering pockets and tieing up a game he looked like losing. Just when you think McAlinden is having an off night you get stung by a sucker punch and he reels off a cracking finish.
A 1/4 finalist last year Jason Lennon is hoping to improve on that this year and we in the blog have been raving about this raw talent. Lennon beat team mate Davy Hanna last time out in a Tiger's derby match. He didn't set the Premier Division alight but there were glimpses in the last few weeks of league fixtures that he was coming into form just at the right time for a go at the Singles title. Jason Lennon is a stunning potting machine and when he is in full flight he is match for any one. He is very attacking and can play cannons but prefers a good positional shot to ensure a pot.
This is going to be a very interesting game. Jason Lennon will need to bring his 'A' game or Nan's player McAlinden will make him pay the price. This will be no pushover for Lennon but he should have too much firepower for McAlinden but this could go all the way.
TOMMY MOONEY v JAMIE LAVELLE
An intriguing match-up here. It's old hat v the young pup. Tommy Mooney has been there, done it and wore the T-shirt. Mooney has a trophy cabinet to match any player but has the few years out of the top Division made the former Corrinshego player lose his edge? He was comfortable in Division 1 this season but when he was truly up against it like when he played Barney Preece, he didn't impress. Mooney is an intelligent player. Tactically he is very good. He can take out stunning finishes but now he is up against a player that will punish mistakes.
Jamie Lavelle is a bit like drinking cold tea at the minute. The kettle boiled along time ago but Lavelle has lost the heat he had earlier in the season. Jamie Lavelle's high point was beating Pat Brady and inspiring his Carrickcruppen team to victory over soon to be league champions CWC A. He was brilliant that night but big wins like that have been dwindling. Lavelle is a stunning potter when on form but in his off nights he couldn't pot into buckets. Lavelle will play an open attacking game and will go for the big finishes.
The result of this game all depends on which Jamie Lavelle turns up. If the two players hit form we are in for a treat. Lavelle needs to be at his best and the bookies have Mooney over whelming favourite but we are going for Lavelle to find that spark and hit the boil again.
AARON O'CALLAGHAN v DECLAN McMAHON
Two tremendous potter's clash in what should be a very high quality match. O'Callaghan had a mixed season in Division 1 as his team struggled to adapt to their relegation from the Premier Division. He has already dumped two Premier Division players out of the Singles and will be confident. The Windmill 'Whirlwind' is one of the most attacking players about. He will go for the finish virtually every visit to the table. O'Callaghan is a stunning potter and is trying to emulate his Father 'Bunty' in winning the Singles crown.
Declan McMahon had a good win over smart potter Martin McClelland (CWC) last time out. McMahon is always fragile in the early rounds but the closer to the finish line he gets the stronger he becomes. McMahon is one of the most decorated players with multiple Individual and overall individual titles as well as a Pairs title. His potting skills are obvious to everyone but it's his tactical knowledge of the game that is underrated and is a powerful tool at his disposal. McMahon likes to develop his balls out into the open before mopping up with clinical precision.
Expect an open attacking game here. Aaron O'Callaghan will need to be bang on form to win this. McMahon is capable of digging out a win on a bad night whereas O'Callaghan has little in the way of a 'B' game. The bookies have McMahon as massive favourite and we think their right. McMahon should to too good.
EMMETT FEARON v JIMMY McVERRY
These two players won't hold back in what is expected to be a quick fire game between two players playing outside the Premier Division. Both have experience in the top tier though and are good players.
Emmett Fearon has beaten Eddie Heaney and John Magee so the draws have been quite favourable to him. The ex-Killeavy lad won promotion with St. Moninna this season and will be confident. He is an attacking player who takes the pots on and is very capable of taking out a big finish. Tactically he's not too bad but he isn't likely to roll in behind a ball to get 2 shots if the finish is on.
Jimmy McVerry had a very good win over Tommy O'Hanlon in the 1st round and his opponent didn't show in the 2nd. McVerry will be trying to emulate his Dan's team mate and son Seamus who beat the odds to bring home the title last year. Daddy McVerrry doesn't quite have the talent of his son but he is a grafter and can certainly take out a tricky finish. McVerry won't rush into a finish. He will wait and develop his balls and cover pockets until they are all in the open. Senior McVerry is a slow starter but the longer the frame goes on the more likely he is is to come out victorious.
Both these players are big outsiders to lift the Singles crown. Emmett Fearon has the potting ability to cause a few shocks if he can get passed Jimmy McVerry. Fearon might need to dig deep but he should just edge a tight match between two good South Armagh cueists.
GAVIN MALONE v GARRY POWELL
The Grafter v the Potter should be an interesting tie for the pool fans. Both experienced players but with different styles this could be a good game.
Gavin Malone hasn't ripped up any trees and it's no surprise he quit as Whitecross captain. His results have been poor this season and will need to bring his 'A' game to this match. He is the only player I've seen that takes his glasses OFF to play pool. Malone has beaten two good and quite attacking Division 1 players by slowing them down and grinding out a win. There is no doubt he will use his tactical knowledge to try and win this game. Malone can take out a finish when he's on his game. If he hits form he will attack and play cannons to free tricky balls.
Garry Powell has beaten Malone's team mate Michael Feenan in the prelim round then a useful Danny Cinamond before ending the talented Anthony Morgan's title dream. He's definitely got here the hard way, playing some exciting, free flowing pool. Powell had a great run to the semi-final of the Pairs with Neil Heaney so he is going to be brimming with confidence. The Bears' star player is an excellent potter and won't mess about when the 'game is on'. Although he won't want a tactical match, if Powell needs to get a snooker he is well capable of getting it.
Garry Powell is riding on the crest of a wave. This is a tough ask for Gavin Malone. If the balls break well then Garry Powell is going to be hard to beat and he is our tip in a close match.
STEPHEN TEGGART v RICHIE TAYLOR
Both these players are talented potters and if the balls break kindly this will be an open, attacking match.
Stevie Teggart beat Neil Heaney comfortably last time out in his trickiest tie so far. Teggart is a former overall individual winner. He is one of the local games great grinders. The Killeavy native is a brilliant potter but when things go wrong he won't be found wanting in the tactical stakes. Great finisher and has nerves of steal.
Richie Taylor has got here the hard way. Beating PJ McDaniel and then dumping last year's winner Seamus McVerry en-route to the last 32. There's no doubting Taylor has the quality or the temperament to give the Singles a good rattle but has he got the consistency? He is an excellent potter and in amongst the balls he can be deadly. He will happily rely cannons tp open the table his attacking style. His tactical game is decent but nowhere near that of Stevie Teggart.
Stevie Teggart has been to the top. Seen it and done. He has represented his County and has bags of experience. Taylor certainly seems to be on the way up but this game might be a year too early. Teggart has all the shots and is a good outside bet for the title Teggart gets our tip here in a high standard encounter.
THOMAS HUGHES v JACK COURTNEY
Intriguing game between the old warhorse and the young warrior.
Thomas Hughes beat Cathal McCoy last time out in a fantastic match. Hughes also battled his way to the semi-final of the Pairs in a tough side of the draw with Niall McVerry. Hughes should be full of confidence and he won't fear Jack Courtney. Hughes will take his time and try to stop Courtney from getting into his rhythm. CWC A player Hughes will keep plenty of balls on the table and certainly take a cautious approach. If the opportunity arises he can take out a a good finish.
Jack Courtney has been knocking on the door. A beaten finalist last year the TJ's man will know he needs to improve immeasurably to win the title this year. Knocked from the South Armagh Singles last week Courtney has yet to hit top form on the back of a dissapointing win rate with TJ's. Courtney is a top class player when he's on his game. He loves attacking the table. Smart player tactaclly and good in amongst the balls. Positional play is usually sound and big finishes are a specialty for him. His no.1 fan, Sister Laura will no doubt be cheering him on on Social media.
Make no bones about it the gardener will be on the compost heap if he is out of sorts on Tuesday night. Jack Courtney needs to play well or Thomas Hughes will send him packing. Courtney has to start favourite. He has all the shots and experience under pressure to win this but it could go right to the wire.
HARVEY LAVELLE v PAT BRADY
The unbeatable Pairs partnership landed ther second doubles title in two years and now these great friends and team mates clash for a place in the last 16.
Harvey Lavelle had a tough season on a personal level. His win rate was very poor for a player of his quality. 5 league defeats on the spin were a low point. Lavelle has been critised for being ultra negative at times this season and many of those games he came out 2nd best. He is a natural potter with a good snooker background. He is brilliant in and around the balls and can take out a stunning finish. Needless to say he loves a good tactical battle and he sees that as one of his strengths. When Pat Byrne beats you in a tactical exchange it's time to re - evaluate your strategy. Great pressure player and really hard to beat makes him among the favourites for the Singles title.
Pat Brady didn't enter the competition last year - for the fear of winning it since he's 'running the book'. A conflict of interest you might say. This year it's business as usual and after masterminding TJ's end of total domination now he intends on bringing home the Singles crown once more. The CWC captain beat team mate Paul O'Callaghan in the last round and we be hoping to do it again. Brady is another player that's incredibly hard to beat. If you go for the game and fail to clear then he is one of the best in the league at tying you up. You are very unlikely to get another chance. Brady is made for pressure. His potting is outstanding and when in amongst the balls is very probably going to clear them.
Big Pat is 4th favourite for a good reason. He is a trophy winning machine. Good pals Harvey and Pat will dish up a tactical masterclass. Any players that want to learn the tactical side of the game should watch these two go toe to toe. Shot selection - these two nearly always play the right shot. Both players will take the cautious approach in a tight match. This really is anybodies game. They know each other inside out. Pat Brady is probably going to be slightly more adventurous and after 3 long frames I'd expect him to come out victorious.
Good luck to all our competitors
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