In an action packed double bill at the Spa in Bridlington, London’s Ian Ali and Blackpool’s finest Lee Clough both tasted victory, in the Bridlington Open and Players Professional Championships respectively.
In a groundbreaking development, and following on from the IPA’s move to Blackball rules, this historic inaugural event was jointly promoted by the IPA and the European Blackball Association (EBA). It came as no great surprise that the limited entry of 64 was soon filled up with a “who’s who” of pool, and trying to pick a winner at the outset looked nigh on impossible.
High profile names were littered in the draw – Holtz, Lucas, Shepherd, Hibbott, Potts, Gillespie to name a few, but such was the strength of the field that none of those mentioned even made the semi finals though the standard was unrelenting with dish after dish the flavour of the day, thanks to Blackball’s more attacking rules.
When it came down to the final 4 ( Jimmy Carney v Craig Marsh, and Ian Ali v Liam Dunster) we had a combination of three IPA Professionals and an Under 23 World Champion – a pretty impressive line up.
Carney, who had come through a tough part of the draw which included victories over IPA Pro Lee Anderson, Scottish legend Pat Holtz and the popular Scott Gillespie, saw his hopes disappear as a resurgent Marsh came through 6-1 with some clinical finishing. The second semi was a much closer fought affair, with Ali coming through 6-4 against the very impressive Dunster – who is certainly a name to watch out for in future events.
The final pitted two IPA Pros against each other in Ali v Marsh but although the watching crowd hoped for a nail biting finish down to the wire, it wasn’t to be with Craig failing to get many chances, and Ian taking full advantage of every opportunity to run out a deserved 6-2 winner on the day. So all I can add is well played Ian Ali – the victor of this inaugural event which we are sure will become a permanent fixture in the Blackball pool calendar.
Meanwhile, the IPA Players Professional Championships were also being completed – the final event from the 2012 Professional season. A very strong line up, including the familiar names of Gareth Potts, Ronan McCarthy and Neil Raybone were all present for the final stages of what promised to be an intriguing event and we weren’t going to be disappointed.
The first shock of the day saw Gareth Potts being dumped out by the highly rated Clint I’Anson by eight frames to five. A shock maybe, but on his day Clint is a match for anyone and today was his day. Victories for Lee “The Tower” Clough over Ian Hubbard, and Neil Raybone over Gareth Hibbott soon followed, but there was a tense affair in the final quarter final match up between Ronan McCarthy and the ever improving Jason Rimington which went to seven all after a nip and tuck battle after Jason had pulled out an amazing finish to force the decider though Ronan took full advantage of the final break to clear up, and put his name forward into the semi finals to play Neil Raybone.
Unsurprisingly, the semi finals were tight, tense affairs with so much at stake, but the experience of Lee Clough told as he eked out an 8-6 victory over Clint I’Anson, whilst the second semi went to the wire where McCarthy was once again involved in a deciding frame shoot out, but this time it was Raybone who eventually came out on top.
The stage was set for an intriguing final which meant even more to both players as the winner would be taking their first IPA Professional ranking title.
The importance of the title was clearly evident in the early stages, with neither player getting the chances to get into rhythm, but Clough’s determination to capture the title shone through and he was not to be denied, finally coming through by eight frames to five, ending his most successful IPA season ever, following his victories at Tour 5 as well as the televised IPA Masters – surely a candidate for Player of the Year at the upcoming IPA Awards?
Overall , the players, spectators, and the committee oversaw an excellent day of pool at The Bridlington Spa, and on behalf of the IPA, we would like to thank Trevor Harte and everyone at the EBA for making us so welcome.