Champion Hill Records Unique European Double

Champion Hill Records Unique European Double

Aaron Hill completed an unprecedented continental double after defeating Hayden Staniland 5-2 in the final to win the 2020 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship in Portugal.

Just days after retaining the European under-18 title at the Salgados Palace Hotel in Albufeira, the latest part of Hill’s trophy duo earns him a coveted professional World Snooker Tour card for the first time. He becomes the first player to claim both EBSA junior category championships in the same year. 

The Irishman continued his fine form from earlier in the week, emerging through an entry of over 90 players who were representing 27 different countries. He began his campaign by relinquishing just one frame in the round robin phase, topping his group and qualifying for the knockouts. 

Hill would however endure a scare in the last 32 when opponent Patrik Tiihonen of Finland made a 101 break to move 2-0 up before he strung together four consecutive frames to progress 4-2. The Cork cueist highlighted a run of 97 in eliminating fellow countryman and last year’s runner-up Ross Bulman 4-1 in the last 16 and then dispatched England’s number one ranked under-21 player and national champion Mark Lloyd 4-0 in the quarter-finals. In the last four he ended the challenge of Belgium’s Ben Mertens 4-1. 

Waiting for Hill in the final was Staniland, who was the first Englishman to reach the title match since 2016. Staniland showed nerve to survive a trio of deciding frame finishes in the knockout phase, including victory against Frenchman Brian Ochoiski in the semi-finals. In this the 24th edition of the competition, had Ochoiski advanced, it would have been the first time that a player from the United Kingdom had not featured in the final. 

Staniland was largely confined to his seat for the opening mini-session of the best-of-nine frames final, though, as Hill helped himself to breaks of 59, 69 and 76 to boss his way to a 4-0 lead. The whitewash was averted by Staniland after the break and with an effort of 53 in frame six, he briefly threatened an unlikely comeback. However, despite a couple of wobbles in frame seven, Hill composed himself to get across the line and secure a 5-2 success. 

The 18-year-old joins a roll of honour that lists former champions such as world ranking event winners Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel. He is the third player from the Republic of Ireland to conquer Europe’s premier youth accolade, following in the footsteps of Thomas Dowling in 1997 – the inaugural edition – and Josh Boileau in 2016. Hill is now guaranteed a place on the sport’s top tier for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.  

Elsewhere in the tournament, England’s Sean Maddocks – finalist in the under-18 championship and the WSF Junior Open – bowed out to Ochoiski in the last 32. WSF Open runner-up Iulian Boiko of the Ukraine qualified as one of the top seeds, but his hopes were dashed by Harry Andrew Gosney (England) in the last 16. Winner of this season’s Challenge Tour Event Seven Dean Young (Scotland) was defeated by Julian Leclercq (Belgium) in the last 32. 

Action continues in Portugal with the European 6-Red and Open Championships – the winner of the latter event will also collect a professional tour card. 

2020 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship 

Results from the quarter-finals onwards 

Harry Andrew Gosney (England) 3-4 Hayden Staniland (England) 

Dylan Emery (Wales) 3-4 Brian Ochoiski (France) 

Mark Lloyd (England) 0-4 Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 

Ben Mertens (Belgium) 4-1 Daniel Holoyda (Poland) 

Semi-finals 

Staniland 4-3 Ochoiski 

Hill 4-1 Mertens 

Final 

Staniland 2-5 Hill 

Morris Crowned Irish Champion for Fourth Time

Morris Crowned Irish Champion for Fourth Time

The Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (RIBSA) recently held their end of season ‘Finals Weekend’ at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow where several national champions across various categories were confirmed.

In a meeting of two recent ex-professionals, David Morris defeated Josh Boileau to claim the most prestigious prize on the RIBSA domestic circuit; the Irish National Championship.

The opening rounds of the event culminated in 16 players qualifying for the showdown in Carlow last week. Morris, who reached the last 16 of the UK Championship in 2013 and 2014, eliminated John Farrell, Paul Dunne and then 2000 winner Rodney Goggins, another former top tier competitor, to reach the final.

European Under-21 champion in 2016, youngster Boileau only fell off the main tour at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Back in the amateur ranks, he acclimatised himself well to make his maiden final in this tournament after dispatching Robert Murphy in the last four.

The final started off as a predictably close affair with the pair locked at 3-3 come the end of the first session. However, 30-year-old Morris broke free on the resumption, stringing together four frames in a row to seal a 7-3 success. This is the fourth time that the Kilkenny cueist has won the accolade having lifted the trophy in three consecutive years between 2004-2006.

Another 14 titles were awarded across the weekend in the Leinster based venue. Michelle Sherwin won her 16th Irish Ladies Championship when she defeated Ronda Sheldreck, 4-0, in the final, while Michael Judge ousted Goggins, 5-4, to secure the Masters Championship.

In the youth competitions, Aaron Hill completed a double with victories in both the Under-21 and Under-18 divisions, although his bid for the Under-19s was stopped by champion Ross Bulman in the final. Leone Crowley, Aaron Smith and Jack O’Brien won the Under-16, 14 and 12 Championships respectively.

Titles in the three-ball discipline were also showcased; Wayne Doyle got the better of Aidan Murray, 4-1, to capture the 150 Up Championship, but the roles were reversed the following day in the Long Format Championship when Murray came through as a 690-553 victor.

2019 Irish National Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Paul Dunne 1-5 David Morris

Colm Gilcreest 0-5 Rodney Goggins

Robert Murphy 5-0 Aaron Holland

Josh Boileau 5-0 Aaron Hill

Semi-Finals

Morris 6-3 Goggins

Murphy 4-6 Boileau

Final

Morris 7-3 Boileau

Photo by RIBSA.