Contestants on cue for Special Festival of Pool

POT BLACK. The Mounfern Pool Team, who competed in the Special Pool competiton at the Lodge Hotel.CR47-404SC.
POT BLACK. The Mounfern Pool Team, who competed in the Special Pool competiton at the Lodge Hotel.CR47-404SC.
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The 2013 Northern Ireland Mr Chips Special Festival of Pool commences on Tuesday 19th November in the Lodge hotel, Coleraine, with play continuing through to Friday 22nd November.

Now in its 21st year the festival, which is once again supported by Coleraine Borough Council, affords the opportunity to people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and physical disabilities to compete both for national and international titles.

Played in the luxurious Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, on 14 specially installed Supreme pool tables from CGQ Snooker & Pool Tables of Cookstown, the 2013 festival is sure to be the highlight of the year for the pool players from the Special Schools and Day Centres of Northern Ireland.

Junior players from various schools across the province take centre stage on Tuesday when they compete for the Northern Ireland Team championship. Local school Sandleford, will be determined that one of their three teams will be triumphant but they will be pushed all the way by teams from Hillcroft Special School from Newtownabbey.

Also on Monday the All Abilities Individuals will be decided. This category caters for players with mental health problems and physical disabilities. Wheelchair player Rab McMaw from Ballynure will be the player to beat as he tries to secure his eighth N.Ireland title but a surprise winner could come from anyone of the three players representing the Brook, Coleraine

Wednesday sees the start of the senior events with three team titles being played for. The Men’s team event is once again guaranteed to be hotly contested but last years winners, Millbrook from Ballymoney, will not concede the crown easily. Their most likely challenge should come from Rathmoyle of Ballycastle.

In the Ladies event local centre Mountfern will be trying to wrestle the title from the ladies of Maghera, last years champions. The winner of the very popular Social team event could come from any of the twenty two entered teams. Muckamore Abbey from Antrim are sure to be in the hunt for this title but strong challenges can be expected to come from the Bayview Centre from Bangor, Belfast’s Conlig and Cookstown Gateway Club.

On Wednesday evening members of the NIPA Ladies international team who will just have retuned from International duty in Malta pair up with the players to compete in an entertaining doubles competition.

The three individual championships for Men, Ladies and Socials are played on Thursday. Defending men’s champion John Brown from Belfast will have to be at his best if he is going to achieve a hat trick of titles. Last year’s runner up Alistair Lynn from Maghera will be out to prove his appearance in last year’s final was not a one off.

However the main challenge will come from multiply world champion Paddy Reid. In the ladies individuals Francis McCann, the defending champion will start the ladies event as favourite but she will be pushed all the way by her International team mates Susan O’Kane, Briege McFaul and Valeria Taggart.

The social individuals will be a much more open contest with anyone of the 70 entrants capable of winning it. The 2012 winner Crawford Chambers from North Belfast Community Day Services will have his work cut out if he is to repeat last years

All finals and their subsequent plate finals take place on the Friday and the highly popular speed pool event concludes the festival with the awards ceremony at 3.00pm.

Newly elected chairman of the Northern Ireland Special Pool Committee, Mr Mervyn Taggart expressed his delight with the level off entries which he said spoke volumes for the reputation and organisation of the festival.

On behalf of all the players he thanked the festivals main sponsor, Mr Clem Howard of Mr Chips, Portrush, Coleraine Borough Council and the Lodge Hotel for their invaluable support of the event. He also expressed his gratitude to all table sponsors and to the local volunteers who referee on a daily basis.