UNCERTAINTY rules supreme at the moment in Irish amateur snooker with no clear indications on when the sport resumes.
The professional game goes on in the eerie emptiness of the Marshall Arena in Milton Keyes and even though we get a chance to watch the top players in action it certainly lacks something and the BetVictor Shootout tournament, definitely the most popular event outside of the World Championships, will be without the usual loud spectators. That will have a huge effect on the event.
Shootouts always draw huge attention because of the interaction with the crowd and it is going to be very strange this year in an empty arena but we will get to see every match live on Eurosport including Aaron Hill’s games.
Meanwhile, Hill was honoured again being named as one of five contenders for the RTÉ Young Sportsperson of the Year along with Katelynn Phelan for Boxing, Keane Barry for Darts, Oisin Mullin for Gaelic Football, and Oisin O’Callaghan for Motor Sport.
The Cork superstar had every chance too, considering two European titles in one season, plus his rise to fame as a professional, but it wasn’t to be.
This time last year Hill was part of a Crucible side going on to win the All-Ireland snooker club championships in Killarney at the Gleneagle Hotel along with Greg Casey, Daniel O’Regan, David Cassidy, and Ryan Cronin.
Sadly for everyone involved in the last two weekends the Munster snooker club championships and the All-Ireland snooker club championships fell foul of the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two weekends are the highlight for many people in the Irish snooker calendar and it has never failed to impress and capture the imagination of the Irish snooker fraternity in all 32 counties and over the past couple of weeks on social media, through emails and in phone calls the disappointment felt is completely understandable.
The tournaments are in their fourth decade and have always been under the control and stewardship of tournament director Connie O’Sullivan who said it is a very strange time for the sport.
“It is so strange that the championships were not held and that is coming from everyone involved, the organising committee, the players, the referees, the clubs, the families and the Gleneagle Hotel the home for these great set of championships since day one.
“It is a great snooker event and a great social event too where people, who might only meet each other once a year, get together in Killarney for a few days and really enjoy themselves.
"It is such a shame that it didn’t happen this year, but we all have to be responsible in these terrible times, that is the priority.
“Having said that I have been asked by many people when will it be staged again?
“I have no answer for that one. The Gleneagle Hotel is hoping things change for the better as soon as possible as they have commitments to various annual events and it is probably unlikely we will get another chance until this time next year.”
There was a time when Cork snooker could only dream of winning an All-Ireland tournament and struggled a lot in the Munster championship.
The Crucible have certainly blown that idea out of the water with a couple of wins now and enter most tournaments as the pre-championship favourites and even though they will obviously be without the services of Aaron Hill the likely replacement for the Crucible will be Noel Landers — a young man who has tons of ability on the baize and has a lot of Killarney experience.
The national governing body: Snooker and Billiards Ireland, are working hard to secure premises for a national academy. Work is ongoing and every effort is being made to have a new home for the game in the very near future.
SBI’s hopes of having some sort of competitive calendar at the moment have taken a bit of a battering and hopes are that when the lockdown ends, SBI will be ready to get as many tournaments organised as possible.
The cancelling of the national championships last year was a bitter blow for Irish snooker and hopefully snooker can get back at some stage to ranking events and get some European and World snooker competition in 2021 with both European and World bodies planning for tournaments in the coming months in Portugal and as of yet undisclosed WPBSA venue which will always be a top priority for the younger players in the game of snooker.
Finally, on a very sad note, Cork, Munster and Ireland lost a member of its snooker family last week when Donncha Corcoran sadly passed away.
Donncha was a stalwart member of the Cork AOH club, a very good player, a great character, but mostly he will be missed for being a really genuinely nice person.
Donncha loved the game and supported everything in the sport he was asked to do, he was the proud captain of the AOH side that won the Cork B Snooker League a few years ago on a famous night for the club in Fermoy.
On a personal note, Donncha was always a gentleman, he loved a laugh and was very helpful and he was a dedicated snooker man. I will miss him and reflect on another member of the Cork snooker family taken from us.
Sincere condolences to his family and friends, rest in peace Donnacha.