McGuigan Defends Northern Irish Title

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Robbie McGuigan joined an elite band of players as a first-time champion to retain the Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship following victory at the Drumaness Snooker Club last weekend. 

The in-form 17-year-old – who won his maiden Q Tour event title earlier this month in Leeds – became the youngest-ever winner of this title last summer, eclipsing Mark Allen’s previous record.

One of the world’s oldest national snooker championships, the competition dates back to 1927 and has been won by two-time world champion Alex Higgins, former Masters champion Allen and 2021 Welsh Open winner Jordan Brown. Former world championship quarter-finalist Patrick Wallace holds the record for the greatest number of wins with eight.

Held over three consecutive weeks, the championship once again drew a healthy number of entries, but McGuigan dropped just two frames as he reached the final for a third successive year.

In the opening phase of the tournament, the number one seed defeated Seanpaul McCauley 3-0 (119 break), Joel Connolly 3-0 (62 break) and then Jamie Gardiner in the last 16, 4-0 (103 and 60 breaks).

That trio of wins saw McGuigan into Finals Weekend where he registered runs of 80 and 84 on his way to defeating Colin Anderson 5-1 in the quarter-finals. He dropped the opening frame of his semi-final clash with former two-time champion Dermot McGlinchey, but breaks of 68, 50, 51 and 80 aided him in a comfortable 6-1 victory.

In a repeat of last year’s final, McGuigan would face Rab McCullough, who had eliminated Wallace 5-2 in the last eight and clubmate Ryan McQuillan 6-2 in the final four.

Looking to lift the iconic trophy for the first time, McCullough got off to a good start in the title match as he shaded the first session 5-4. However, the teenager would not relinquish his crown as he chalked up six of the following seven frames – highlighted by an effort of 130 in the final frame, the highest of the tournament – to triumph 10-6. McGuigan also made six other breaks of 50 or over in the match (82, 50, 98, 58, 72 and 89).

This latest win completes a stellar month for McGuigan and an impressive national double having also claimed the Northern Ireland Under-21 Championship with a 5-2 victory over Gardiner in the final a few weeks ago.

McGuigan now looks ahead to the World Professional Championship qualifiers and the Q Tour Playoffs as he aims to secure a professional tour card for the first time.

Article by Michael Day.