IN a year where Cork sport hasn’t exactly exploded with success at least the snooker fraternity on Leeside can take pride in what was an extraordinary year for one Aaron Hill.
2020 for most has been a year they want to forget but for Hill it was 12 months that the young Cork snooker ace will treasure forever.
Even though there have been recent matches he will want to put into the past, one of the sporting highlights from a Cork point of view has to be Aaron Hill’s defeat of the six times World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the European Masters.
For those in the game Hill’s rise to fame into the professional ranks of the game is no surprise, but to do what he has done in just four years is staggering and yes the expectations were huge and yes he is starting to understand the toughness of professional snooker but have no doubt Hill is a very quick learner and great things are yet to come from the Cathedral Road native.
When you put things into perspective in 2016 Hill had his first games in the Crucible snooker club and within months he was starting to develop a cue action that only some players could dream of.
He was lucky too when you consider that Hill had the likes of Greg Casey a seasoned International snooker player with tons of talent and experience to practice with, also the likes of Ryan Cronin and David Cassidy also from the Crucible, both very successful Internationals with tons of success in Cork and in Munster were there to help test the young Aaron Hill.
Coming from a snooker stronghold on the northside of Cork City certainly gave Hill an early education on how to play the game and how to develop as a player and within 12 months as a 15-year-old Hill was the Cork U19 champion.
To say this was a sign of things to come was the understatement of the decade as Hill started to dominate various age groups at national level and suddenly a new force in Irish snooker was born as the titles started to mount and soon International snooker was on the horizon.
The then governing body RIBSA immediately recognised the young Cork player's potential and included him in the annual Celtic Challenge squad against Wales and Hill immediately showed how much he loved that type of pressure.
Nicknamed the Breeze, Hill’s temperament was superb at such a young age when he played at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds in the Home Nations again Hill did his talking on the table because he is a very quiet character off the table and rarely if ever talks about snooker.
Hill rose to a new level in October 2018 when he made it all the way the IBSF World U16 final in St Petersburg in Russia where he narrowly lost out to Ben Mertens in the final.
Hill was devastated to lose that match but as always he quickly picked himself back up and learned from the experience and put his mind back to practice and preparation for the European championships in February 2019.
Eilat in Israel was I believe the place that sparked Aaron Hill’s elevation in the game to new heights and in what was one of the finest ever run EBSA Europeans Hill was simply unstoppable in the U18 event and as he went on to become the first Cork player ever to lift a European trophy and the signs were there that Hill was getting closer to achieving that dream of becoming a fully-fledged professional player.
Hill got to the semi-finals of the U21 event and showed that he could as a 17-year-old the following year in Albufeira Portugal go all the way to win the U21 title and gain a World Snooker Tour two-year professional tour card.
In Albufeira Hill was just incredible winning the U18 and U21 titles, something that hadn’t been done before and now Hill had no need to go to cue school as he was off to the main tour.
The excitement level surrounding Hill on his return home to Ireland with the two European Cups was immense, but as always Hill took everything in his stride.
Domestically Hill was doing all kinds of record-breaking, becoming the first amateur to knock in three consecutive century breaks in a row and that was in a Cork snooker league final against his friend Ross Bulman.
Success in the All-Ireland snooker club championships with his club the Crucible, success in Northern Ireland at the all of Ireland championships defeating Mark Allen en-route to victory.
Suddenly everything was opening up for Aaron Hill and with the magnificent support of his family and friends, plus the important support of his sponsor Tomás Singleton it was all systems go for the most exciting prospect to come out of Ireland since Ken Doherty.