Cork's rising snooker stars must wait for rescheduled World Championships

Cork's rising snooker stars must wait for rescheduled World Championships
Both Aaron Hill and Ross Bulman will now have to wait and see when their World Snooker championship qualifying matches are going to be re-fixed for, probably later in 2020 at this stage.

WITH all Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (RIBSA) events postponed until the coronavirus outbreak subsides, the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA) has made a huge decision about the 2020 season.

EBSA secretary, Simon Smith, says of reasoning for this decision: “The EBSA Masters, Ladies,’ and Team Championships were due to take place in Moscow in June.

“Given the ever-changing situation across the many European countries, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and the uncertainty about when things will return to normal, including sports events, the EBSA board have taken the decision to cancel the championships that are due to take place in Moscow.

"I am sure that everyone will agree that, given the cancellation of the Championships, it would be impractical to consider holding the EBSA annual general meeting this year.

“The EBSA have proposed that the annual general meeting will, therefore, be held at the following European Championships and that means that the planned elections will also, therefore, be postponed.

“These elections will take place at the revised annual general meeting, although the period for office will remain unchanged,” Smith says.

Greg Casey in action at the World Snooker qualifiers two years ago. 
Greg Casey in action at the World Snooker qualifiers two years ago. 

This has a significant effect on our Irish international players, including Aaron Hill, Greg Casey, and Dylan Rees, who have all performed at European team and masters events over recent years. The decision is disappointing but essential.

It is surprising that the European championships were not deferred until maybe September or October, but logistics and national team events within the 40-plus countries affiliated to the EBSA would also have had to change to meet the demands of a two-week tournament.

Other disappointing announcements were made last week. World Snooker announced that the 2020 Betfred World Championship has been postponed. This affects Aaron Hill and Ross Bulman.

The qualifying rounds of snooker’s biggest event were due to run from April 8 until to April 15, at the English Institute of Sport, in Sheffield, followed by the final stages, from April 18 to May 4, at the Crucible Theatre, but are now deferred, with the World Snooker Tour now intending to host the final stages, at the Crucible, in July or August.

This will be preceded by the qualifying rounds.

WST are awaiting feedback from the BBC, and our other principal broadcasters, before dates are confirmed and they hope to make a further announcement in the coming days.

One of the key periods in the annual snooker calendar is Q School, where, last year, Ross Bulman came within one frame of acquiring a professional tour card. This is a tough test, but an opportunity for amateur talents to go pro.

Q School 2020, which was due to start on May 18, has also been postponed, until after the completion of the Betfred World Championship.

So, what now for Cork snooker over the coming months?

Well, it’s just like every other, on hiatus, and although it is a difficult time, there isn’t anything that anyone can do.

Players will practise more than usual, one would imagine, and, luckily, some of our top Cork players have their own snooker rooms, but it will be a testing time for everyone, with the lack of competition.

The Irish national governing body, RIBSA, is looking at the possibility of still completing their national championships in a couple of months’ time, but they are monitoring the situation, which is changing daily.

It had been quite a season already for Cork snooker, in the weeks leading up to the coronavirus outbreak. The year started with a full complement of games, with Aaron Hill claiming his third Cork Close title in a row, at the AOH Cork.

Then, Killarney came around again, with the Crucible, the defending Munster champions, losing in the final to Tipperary’s New Institute, but bouncing back a week later, defeating St John’s, of Limerick, to win the All-Ireland Snooker Club Championship. Greg Casey, Daniel O’Regan, Ryan Cronin, David Cassidy, and player of the tournament, Aaron Hill, on the team

Soon after that and the Crucible were at it again, with Stephen Walsh coming in for Daniel O’Regan in the Cork Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) league final.The Crucible defeated Youghal CYMS.

This was title number seven in nine years for the Crucible and it was a night when Aaron Hill became the first amateur in the game to pot three century beaks in succession, in his match against his friend and rival, Ross Bulman.

Those two players were in the limelight just a couple of weeks later, when they both travelled to Watford to compete in the BetVictor Shootout.

Both players got to the last 32, with notable scalps. Bulman defeated the recent EBSA European men’s champion, Andrew Pagget, from Wales, and Hill stunned the Watford Coliseum audience with a win against Kyren Wilson.

Of course, the double European triumphs by Aaron Hill, in the U18 and U21 EBSA European championships, in Portugal, have been the highlights of a short, but very successful, season, so far.

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