The Newry and District Pool season is down to the business end of things. The Newry Individuals champion is the Holy Grail and never has there been so much talk about the much coveted title. With Pat Brady doing a book this season and the website and social media proving a major hit with pool players and fans alike, it has brought the pool interest to a new level
Never before has the tournament been so open and that was proved in the last round when both Irish internationals Manny and Tristan Byrne of recently crowned 4 times league champions TJ''s A crashing out to lower Division opposition.
TJ's pool hall will host all 16 ties this Tuesday night in a feast pool.
The 2 giant killers of the last round got tough opponents.
Shane Durnin the slayer of the TJ's legend Manny Byrne got another free flowing potter in Jason Lennon (TJ's D).
Damien Woods who beat Tristan Byrne got the exciting Barney Preece.
The tie of the round has to be 2 former overall winners Stephen Teggart v Kieran McMahon.
Considering 1 player will emerge from each table then effectively they are 4 groups of 4.
Table 1 is undoubtedly 'The Group Of Death'.
Declan McMahon will start the night taking on Shane McAllister. Both good players. McMahon is a former winner and although happy to sit out large parts of TJ's title winning campaign he is a major player.
McAllister is a good potter and lethal given the room to finish.
McMahon has the better all-round game and we expect the postie to deliver the goods again here.
Karl McGuinness v Seamus McGeoghegan is a fascinating tie of 2 contrasting styles. If the game is on McGuinness will go for it. He won't want to get bogged down in tactical frames. McGeoghegan is more likely to hold out for 2 shots. The latter is slower round the table and a bit more of a thinker.
This match will be decided on how well the balls break. McGuinness is having more joy this season so he just might nick it on a decider.
Martin McVeigh v Declan McConville is similar to the last match in that McVeigh will take his time and cover pockets.
McConville will be more proactive. McVeigh would probably be happy with a couple of re-spotted blacks but McConville is on fire lately and playing a lot of pool. McConville is huge favourite and there is unlikely to be an upset here.
Cathal Phelan v Emmett Fearon has already been played and there were no surprises when Phelan cruised through 2-0.
Phelan had a stellar season with Whitecross while Fearon struggled badly since his move from Murphys in Meigh to Killeavy. 2-0 sounds about right.
Niall O'Hare v Adrian Annett is a tasty appetiser to get us started on table 2. Expect lots of stunning pots and attacking pool as these 2 TJ's D team mates go head to head. Don't expect much use from the stop clock and a visit to the bar might cost you seeing a frame. O'Hare's experience gained in the World and European pool championships should be enough to edge a close skillful encounter for the pair who will play Premier Division pool with their promoted TJ's D next season.
Anthony Morgan v Conor Dullaghan won't get your pulses going quite so much. Bookies have Morgan huge favourite but it's not just as clear cut as that.
Morgan has struggled to get regular game time at Hustlers while Dullaghan has been 1 of Granvue hotels star performers this season again.
I'm going against the bookies here and Dullaghan could win this on a decider.
Seamus Mc Verry v Kieran Hanna is going to be a lot slower, more tactical game than the other 2. Graham has done reasonably for Dan's this year. He can take out a finish and will play for his 2 shots.
Hanna isn't going to get caught that handy and is more than willing to bide his time. Hanna has had a decent season and if I was auctioning off last 16 places I think Hanna would be my highest bidder.
Barney Preece (Nan's Rams) v Damien Woods (TJ's C) on paper is very 1 sided.
Preece is a fantastic talent. Great potter, can control the white and won't suffer from nerves.
Woods only went and beat TJ's A hero Tristan Byrne in the last round. By all accounts Byrne played poorly but for Woods you still have to pot the balls. Woods is a good dart player but I'm not sure he's going to see double tops here.
Preece really is a class above and it's hard to envisage Woods cutting Preece down to size just as handy. Preece a comfortable winner.
Stephen Teggart (TJ's A) v Kieran McMahon (CWC) is worth getting off the sofa and down to TJ's Pool Hall for on its own.
If Stephen Teggart brings his 'A' game then this could be the match of the tournament so far. Teggart has taken a bit of stick from us here on the blog in the past but it's because of the high standards he has set himself. He's a proven winner. He's the only player ever to win both the Newry and South Pool Individuals. Brilliant potter but sometimes thinks about where it might go wrong instead of believing in himself.
Kieran McMahon has probably the best shot selection in the local game. Probably the best potter and in amongst the balls he's deadly.
If Teggart can get in and attack the frames he can cause an upset here but the most likely outcome is a narrow nail biting victory for McMahon.
Damien Flanagan (McGuigan's A) v Gareth McCann (Whitecross) is where the standard drops a little. Flanagan has been inconsistent for McGuigan's this season while Gareth McCann has played very little pool for 3rd placed Whitecross. There should be mistakes aplenty but Flanagan should edge a scrappy match.
Niall Mcverry (Sheepbridge A) v Jack Courtney (TJ's A) will bring Table 3 back to life again. McVerry's strong points are his long pots. His snooker background gives that advantage. He has good knowledge of the table and good cue ball control.
Courtney is lethal when in amongst the balls and will take out big finishes. Nerves are not something that will affect him.
This should be a high quality game with Courtney squeezing through after an entertaining show.
Ciaran Hanna jnr (McGuigan's A) Harvey Lavelle Sheepbridge A) is youth verses experience. Hanna has had an excellent season with McGuigan's A. He is a confident potter but Harvey Lavelle is the finished product. Great potter, one of the best tactically and can take out a big finish.
Hanna will need to take any opportunities that come his way to make a game of it otherwise this is an obvious win for former champion Lavelle.
Ralph Cromie (Bears) v Micky Cunningham (Hustlers) will be tight. Both players will take more time on each shot than they did on their hair do for the night that's for certain. These 2 have bags of experience and will be more than willing to slug it out for 20mins.
Cromie is just off the back of a very successful season with Bears where he played a major role in their promotion.
League Secretary Cunningham has been in and out of a Hustlers side that struggled to get going in their inaugural season.
Cromie has the momentum but in a tight tactical match Cunningham has the better potting ability and should prevail.
Thomas Hughes (Hustlers) Larry McAlinden (TJ's A) could be one of the games of the night. Both players are bang on form this season.
Hughes will wait for the right moment before going for the frame. He won't be panicked into going for a big finish.
McAlinden looked very nervous last time out but he oozes class and quality from every shot. McAlinden can sometimes look for problems that aren't there and get stuck in a tactical battle he could easily have avoided.
Hughes will definitely give McAlinden a tough assignment but if the TJ's A marksman is on form it should see him through.
Shane Durnin (Armagh/Down) v Jason Lennon (TJ's D) should be feast of potting. On paper this should be a straight forward shoot-out.
Durnin famously knocked out Manny Byrne in the last round and he deserved the victory. He goes for his pots and Lennon's attacking style might suit Durnin again. Durnin has been hit and miss this season in the league which is s concern.
Lennon has been nothing short of sensational this season for his Premier league bound TJ's D. He was easily one of the best players in Div 1 this season and Lennon just gets the nod here on form alone.
Daniel McGuigan (McGuigan's A) v Jimmy O'Hare (Nan's Rams) might not get the pulse racing like some of the other games but young McGuigan is shaping up to be a fine player and is a tricky opponent for anyone.
O'Hare is a good player if not maybe a little inconsistent and received a walkover in the last round so that's not ideal for him. He will try a tactical approach against a much improved McGuigan who likes to take on the pots and go for his finishes.
Anything other than a McGuigan win would be a major surprise.
That's the run down of the last 32. Get yourselves off the sofa and come down to TJ's Pool Hall and support your team mates and watch some great pool on Tuesday 10th May A great night of entertainment is guaranteed!