POOL:‘Big Guns’ make winning start

The Tennents Coleraine Pool League kicked off on Tuesday night and the new format proved a resounding success.

There were victories for the ‘big three’ while newcomers Blackthorn Inn thoroughly enjoyed their first week of league action.

Floyds Bar 6–11 Sperrin - Floyds did not start the season in great fashion as they were struggling to field a team in the first week, they managed to make a couple of signings at the last minute to give them the minimum quota of five. The Sperrin will be hoping to make amends for last season’s heart breaking end. It was new signing Allen Tosh who got them off to a good start with a scrappy win over Chris Kane.

Fellow new boy, Neville Smyth, showed signs that he is on top form with a blistering eight ball finish to double the lead. Despite being upended from his captaincy role, Raymond Stockman did not let this get to him as he made it 3-0. Floyds finally got off the mark, as Adam Watt beat Paul O’Connor, before Billy Moore restored order to leave a first session score of 4-1.

New Sperrin captain Lee Caulfield showed his troops the way as he one the first frame of the second session after Scott Clark blew a good chance, followed by another super performance by Smyth. Ricky McMullan and Watt once again managed to get a couple of frames back for the home team, but the halfway point came with Sperrin holding a commanding 7-3 lead. McMullan struck another one on the scoreboard but the reprieve was short lived as the visitors took three of the next four through O’Connor, captain Caulfield and Smyth once again.

Although Scott Clakre did register a break and finish in his third session frame. This put the Sperrin on the hill at 10-5 moving into the final session. They hoped to put the tie to bed early, however, Adam Watt struck up his third win of the night as he saw off Caulfield, although the Sperrin skipper tried to blame the table. The Sperrin skipper need not have worried as his talisman Billy Moore was up next and he played his usual patient, tactical game giving McMullan little chance and sealing the victory. Adam Watt 3/4 ; Neville Smyth 3/3, Billy Moore 3/4.

Mary Pats 7–11 Bullseye A - A hard fought contest in the cosy surroundings of Mary Pats in Macosquin. The visitors were strong favourites going into the match and they took a 4-1 lead in the first session with Jimmy Moore and Davy Tosh being particularly impressive, home skipper Martin McNeill the only one to get a score on the board for the home team. Mary Pats settled better in the second session and Andy Hutchinson took the first against Raymond Baxter, with McNeill picking up a second win.

However, the Bullseye managed to nick a 3-2 win in this session as Moore, Gary Wallace and Adrian O’Kane took victories leaving an overall score of 7-3 in the away side’s favour at the halfway stage. The home side reduced the deficit to two frames as McNeill made it three out of three, before Brian Hutchinson took out an excellent finish against Steven McIlroy. Although, Baxter got his revenge on A Hutchinson in the next, with a super finish, followed by a scrappy win for Gary Wallacem to once again open a four frame lead.

The last frame of this session turned into a comedy of errors between O’Kane and Robert Todd. After a number of missed shots, it was Todd who managed to sink the black to give his side a 3-2 win in that session, the overall score though being 9-6. Gary Kennedy got his first win of the evening, after a long absence from league pool to once again reduce the deficit, however Gary Wallace put his side on the hill with a grinded out victory over George Nicholl.

This left Baxter the chance to seal the win for his new team and he did not disappoint with a solid finish. Mary Pats put up a tremendous performance in this match and had they got off to a better start, they could have given the visitors a very uncomfortable night. Martin McNeill 3/4 ; Gary Wallace 4/4.

Bullseye Old Boys 3–11 Forge A - This was a match that proved how important it is to take your chances in this new one frame format, but also how easy it could be for one of the bigger teams to slip up if their opponents do. By the visitors’ own admission they were not at their nest and despite the scoreline, the ‘Old Boys’ had many chances to make the contest much closer.

The defending champions started where they left off, rushing into a 4-0 lead through Marc Hutchinson, Willie Eakin, Ady Toner and Lee Hull. Keith Hunter saved a first session whitewash beating Corey Sweeney. Hunter made it two from two as he started the second session with a win over Paul Baird before John O’Donnell handed Sweeney his second defeat of the night to bring the score back to 4-3. This was as good as it got for the home side as the visitors took contol, Hutchinson and Toner recorded second wins, with Darren Boyd picking up his first in between, leaving a halfway score of 7-3.

The first four frames in the third session all went the way of the Forge, Toner and Hutchinson made it three from three, Boyd and Hull two from two, in order to seal the match. Keith Hunter 2/2; Ady Toner 3/3, Marc Hutchinson 3/3.

Blackthorn Inn 4–11 Social Club - The new boys enjoyed their first taste of league action, helped by the sportsmanship of their opponents. With the Blackthorn squad still getting used to the rules, their opponents were very generous in helping them along the way. The home side thanked their opponents by providing a large platter of sandwiches, although reports that Social Club captain John McIlreavy ate them all are unconfirmed.

The debutants struggled in the first session as their opponents produced some fine pool to race into a 5-0 lead. A second win for skipper McIlreavy, followed by Willie McMullan made it 7-0. However, the new boys got their first frame in the league as Davy Adams potted a great black to beat David Shirlow.

The reprieve was short lived as wins for John Sweeney and Simon McIlreavy made it 9-1 at the halfway stage. John McIlreavy made it three from three to put his side on the hill, but the Blackthorn did not go down without a fight, three wins in a row for Stan Beach, Adams and Justin Mairs added some respectability to the scoreline. However, Social Club’s David Shirlow secured the match on his debut as he took the final frame of the third session. Davy Adams 2/3; John McIlreavy 3/3.

Forge A 7–11 Railway Arms - Last year’s Division 2 champions continued their momentum into the start of the new season with a solid performance over a youthful Forge A side. The first session was close, with the Arms taking a 3-2 lead, although debutant John Huston and Stephen Kerr did not impress. The spine of last year’s successful team with Stephen Blair, Barry McLaughlin & Scott McClelland were crucial in this opening session. Dean Vauls and Scott Hamilton the winners for the Forge.

Kerr and Huston continued to struggle as they lost to Conor Kneeland and Hamilton respectively. Daniel McAuley also picked up a win but Barry McLaughlin took the last frame of the second session to leave it locked at 5-5 at the halfway stage. The home side looked on course for a bit of a shock as they went 7-5 up with wins for Chris Moore and McAuley, with John Huston making it three from three, losses that is.

However, Arms skipper Arthur McMullan got his team back into the match, before further wins for Blair and McLaughlin put the Arms back in front, 8-7 going into the final session. Stephen Kerr picked up his first win for his new team before Blair and McLaughlin, who were exceptional on the night, both made it four from four, sealing the victory in the process. Barry McLaughlin 4/4; Stephen Blair 4/4.

Roost Bar 8–12 Bullseye B - This match probably showed exactly why the single frame format can make such a difference, as last year’s bottom side Roost Bar, really pushed their opponents to the limit. The home side had an early lead as wins for Stewart Mitchell and DD Campbell cancelled out Stephen Warwick’s opening frame. However, Chris McColgan and Steven Morton knuckled down to give the Bullseye a 3-2 lead.

It was the second session where the home team probably lost the match as their only win came via John Cameron, making a welcome return to league action. The visitors saw Kenny Watton, Steven Biggart, Warwick and Morton score to increase their lead to 7–3. The Roost did, however, win the third session, Cameron once again impressed, along with a second win for Campbell and a win for George Cameron made the score 9-6 at the end of session three.

A second for George Cameron reduced the deifict to two, however Biggart and Morton saw the game out for the Bullseye. J Cameron 3/4 ; S Warwick 3/4; S Morton 3/4.

Week 2 fixtures

Railway Arms v Forge A

Sperrin v Bullseye OB

Social Club v Floyds

Bullseye B v Blackthorn

Bullseye A v Roost

Forge Bar v Mary Pats