No Ordinary Joe
Joe O’Connor followed in the footsteps of Billy Joe Castle and this year became the 2018 English Amateur Snooker Champion, weeks after securing a pro ticket for next season.
His win on Sunday 10th June saw him lift snooker’s oldest amateur trophy, first contested in 1916, and end his amateur career on a high.
Sally Hughes presenting the English Amateur Championship trophy to Joe O'Connor
Joe won the Norther Section of the Championship the day before and then went on to defeat former professional Andrew Norman 10–3.
37-year-old Norman, manager of the venue where it was played in at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester returned to the height of the amateur scene 19 years after reaching his first final in 1999 where he lost to David Lilley. It was impressive and positive for the runner-up Norman, who apparently doesn’t get his cue out much these days because of his managerial duties at the venue.
O’Connor said after winning: “I’m over the moon to have won. It’s a very prestigious tournament.”
He added: “This is definitely the highlight of my amateur career.”
After turning pro winning the EBSA playoffs in Sheffield, O’Connor said his first target as being a pro would be just to stay in the top 64 after two seasons and go from there.
The 22-year-old potter follows in the footsteps of Leicester’s top player and three-times World Champion Mark Selby – and even sports the slick hair-cut and snappy dressing as well as the ramrod-straight cue action. That cue action saw him knock in an amazing 93 in the first frame and gave him the starting confidence and belief to know he could win the match.
Brandon Sargeant Claims Six Reds Title
Challenge Tour Event One winner Brandon Sargeant added yet another amateur title to his list – winning the English Six Reds, a shorter version of 15 red snooker, hammering his opponent Paul Metcalfe 8 – 1.
It was an incredible display of form from the 21-year-old Stoke on Trent potter as he reeled off break after break including a 73 in frame four to make it 4 – 0.
His heavy scoring when he got in, was just too much for Grimsby’s Metcalfe who at least managed to avoid the whitewash.
Ryan Davies Magics Four Titles in Two Days
A special mention goes to 16-year-old Ryan Davies, who incredibly conquered all four of the finals he appeared in which included:
The English Under 16 Billiards Championship (2 Hours Duration)
Ryan Davies 661 Jack Tindall 243
The English Under 16 National Snooker Title (Best of 11)
Ryan Davies 6 Bradley Cowdroy 4
The English Under 18 Championship Snooker Title (Best of 11)
Ryan Davies 6 Riley Parsons 5
English Under 21 Billiards Snooker Title (2 Hours Duration)
Ryan Davies 625 Hugo Tomas 353
English Over 55's (Best of 9)
Bill Cornish 1 Steve Whalley 5
English Under 14's (Best of 9)
Paul Deaville 5 Ronnie Sullivan 1
English Under 21's (Best of 15)
Louis Heathcote 8 Callum Costello 7
English Masters Championship (Best of 11)
Shaun Wilkes 6 Wayne Brown 2
It was a fine two days of top amateur performances – which resulted in another amateur going off to start an arduous journey as a pro – but we wish Joe O’Connor the best of luck in his new role as a professional snooker player as Leicester continue to churn out top players.
O’Connor’s first match as a professional begins in the 2018 Riga Master’s qualifiers where he will face the runner-up of the European Snooker Championships Jordan Brown.
Report by Chris Gaynor