All around the world snooker fans will be tuned into the Crucible in Sheffield to see who will win the title but here in the Republic of Ireland all eyes will be on Carlow to see who will qualify for 2014 RIBSA Irish Snooker Championship.
This event is the most prestigious title for any Irishman and down the years Ken Doherty, David Morris, Rodney Goggins, David Hogan, Jason Devaney , Vincent Muldoon, Martin McCrudden and many more have lifted the title aloft to become the Irish Senior Champion. I have been lucky enough to Coach and guide a number of the Champions over the years but this 2014 Championship I believe is going to be one of the best ever.
The Venue of the Ivy Rooms Snooker in Carlow is the perfect stage for the 95 players to battle it out this weekend to find 16 qualifiers for the finals weekend on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of May.
The top four seeds of Robert Murphy, Martin McCrudden, David Hogan and Michael Judge will be among the big title favourites this year. Two of them have already won the title in McCrudden and Judge and many people around Ireland would like to see Robert Murphy finally win a title that he has come so close to over the years and this season Robert is playing his best ever snooker to be at the top of the Irish rankings.
Michael Judge will be hoping to retain the title he won last season when he beat Robert Redmond last May. Three times Champion Martin McCrudden will be hoping to become a four time Champion which will be a record in the modern era of the Championship. Finally David Hogan will want to go one step further than he did in 2011 where he reached the final and the former European Champion will fight all the way this year to become the Champion.
The next four seeds of number John Sutton, Jason Devaney, Rodney Goggins and Colm Gilcrest have the experience and talent to go all the way with three of them already being Champion with only John Sutton yet to lift the title.
There are sixteen seeds and any of them could go all the way with also a number of non seeded players have the game to upset all the players this year. RIBSA have split the draw into two days Saturday and Sunday with the top half of the draw playing on Saturday and the bottom playing on Sunday with the Q-Finalists on both days qualifying each day for the last 16.
As National Coach I am very happy to see so many players making a return to the Irish scene and also a number of our top juniors entering this year as being part of this Championship every year is something that all Irish players should want to do and win or lose we will crown another great Champion who will represent Ireland in the World Amateur Championship in India next November.
Play begins at 10am each morning and they will be live scoring and regular stories via our web site all weekend. I would like to wish all 95 players good luck and I look forward to meeting you Carlow.