Brendan O’Donoghue defeated Ross Bulman 7-5 in the final at the Snooker & Billiards Ireland Academy in Carlow to win the 2023 Irish Amateur Snooker Championship.
The most prestigious domestic prize on the Irish snooker circuit – first won back in 1931 – it is the sixth time that Nenagh cueist O’Donoghue has claimed the title. He has now won the last three editions in a row, and five out of the last eight.
In this year’s event, defending champion O’Donoghue defeated Shane Gorman (4-0), Tony Corrigan (4-0) and Eric Pei (4-0) in the early rounds to reach the quarter-finals. He then made a break of 132 – the highest of the tournament – as he eliminated Noel Landers 5-2 in the last eight, and in a repeat of the 2022 final, he denied Ryan Cronin 6-3 in the last four.
In the top half of the draw, number one seed Bulman made his way through to the title match for the first time. The promising 21-year-old – who has been a national champion in four different age categories as a junior – saw off former professional and four-time winner David Morris 4-1 in the last 32, and later defeated Donal Foran 6-1 in the semi-finals.
There was a very impressive start to the best of 13 frames final from both players. Bulman claimed the opener with an 86 break; O’Donoghue responded with a 71 as he levelled it up. In frame three, 2019 European under-21 runner-up Bulman constructed a 128 total clearance to go back ahead, although former professional O’Donoghue notched up the next two frames – including a run of 67 in the fifth – to lead 3-2 at the end of the first session.
On resumption, O’Donoghue made it 4-2 on the colours, but Youghal’s Bulman took the next two frames to square it for 4-4.
At the end of a tense ninth frame, 40-year-old O’Donoghue potted a long pink and then the black to nudge back in front, and would move one away from glory with frame 10.
Bulman won a low scoring 11th frame to stay alive, but O’Donoghue wasn’t to be stopped as he sealed championship number six with victory in frame 12. His latest triumph comes two decades on from his first in 2003.
Other Irish national championships have been won in various junior categories in recent weeks.
Leone Crowley retained the under-21 title after defeating fellow Cork cueist Sean Walsh 3-2 in the final.
Ronan McGuirk, Jack O’Brien and Liam Dunne were victorious in the under-18, 16 and 14 championships, respectively. Dunne also won the under-12 title.
The images above are courtesy of tournament organisers Snooker & Billiards Ireland.