Oxfordshire Youth A – Runners-up at National Final
From left to right: Olly Mulford, John Colchester-Hall, Frankie Merola (c), Justine Houseman (manager), Elliot Hooper, Callum Vinall, Hasan Ali
All three youth teams qualified for Selsey this year, which was an excellent achievement, but on the big stage one of our teams in particular was to excel. Clinching 3 out of 4 wins from their group games, Oxfordshire A1 finished second in their group to qualify for the semi finals. They would face Staffs A in the semi.
Oxford A1 got off to a great start in the semi, storming to a strong lead only losing 1 frame in the first 8. Hasan Ali broke and dished one of his frames. Oxford took their foot of the gas as they attempted to get over the line, but still came out on top 13-11.
So now to face Warwickshire in the final. A really strong youth side with plenty of England players and junior titles between them. However Oxford were not to be overawed. They battled away, taking a number of frames, and in some style (Callum Vinall – just disturb that black of your last colour with a length of table screw shot – priceless) but ultimately were defeated by very strong opposition 7-13.
Unlucky guys, but those runner-up trophies were hard fought and thoroughly deserved. I for one was so impressed by the talent I saw out on those pool tables. The future of Oxfordshire pool must be bright if these young stars are anything to go by.
The youth A2 team also put in a strong performance, winning 2 out of 4 group matches and only missing out on the semis.
Frankie Merola topped the youth rankings for the weekend, finishing on 75%.
Senior Singles Success – Kevin McIlroy Shine in Selsey
Congratulations to Kevin McIlroy who came runner-up in the 2013 over-40s singles event at Selsey this year.
Unfortunately the Oxfordshire seniors teams did not qualify to play at Selsey this year, but Kev McIlroy was determined to show that the Oxfordshire Golden Oldies have still got what it takes – and show them he did!! Kev entered the seniors singles event, and stopped just one short of claiming the title for his own.
Kev’s charge to glory was quite spectacular, dropping only one single frame in the five matches leading up to the final. There were numerous break dishes and clearances of his opponents’ breaks (though he’ll be horrified at me mentioning this, stating “my reputation will be in tatters!”) and it wouldn’t be McIlroy if he hadn’t done his signature move of a 1hr+ frame resulting in a re-rack. Classic Kev!
Kev took down some big names in his run at the title such as Mike Flannigan (England Seniors A captain) and the current world seniors champion.
Unfortunately the title was not to be Kev’s though this year. He was up against a very attacking potter Eric Doherty and it was a case of dish or be dished. Kev even tried a fudge break to slow his opponent down – which Eric nearly cleared up from!! Nonetheless at 2-2 the scores were tied and Kev was holding his own. An opportunity fell to Kev in both the next two frames, however a couple of small bits of bad run of the ball meant the clearance fell down on both occasions, in the latter frame due to the white just nestling behind the black preventing Kev from potting his last ball. This was all the invitation Eric needed to drive home the win and emerge the 4-2 winner. Unlucky Kevin, but you played some fantastic pool, and I have a feeling this title will indeed be yours one day.
Oxford Ladies A (By Jaz Venning)
This year Oxford Ladies headed to Selsey with high hopes. A strong finish to the qualifying season had seen us top the region, smashing many of our opposition teams with heavy score lines. We all were beginning to dream that this Selsey might be something special.
We charged into action on the first day, smashing up Berkshire, a decent team we know from our region, 11-3. Delighted with this early win we looked forward to the challenge of playing the new Buckinghamshire team we had heard so much about – a new team which had topped the Eastern Region in their debut year. However Oxford ladies were on fire, romping home with another 11-6 victory… and this win included 3 in-off blacks by the Oxford players – so whilst chastising ourselves for our carelessness we consoled ourselves the margin might have been even greater.
The following morning we were playing Essex, who had sprung a surprise defeat over us at Selsey last year. It looked like a different Oxford team in the first leg, slow to start and struggling to hold the score line level at 5-5. However Oxfordshire ladies then put on a spurt and took the next 6 frames in a row to close out the match 11-5.
Going into our fourth match against Bristol both teams were undefeated in the group, and the winner of this match was therefore highly likely to top the group. However the magic of the first days competition seemed to have deserted us, and a decent Bristol side took their chances whilst Oxford failed to do so. We slumped to a heavy defeat 11-6.
Final group game was against Greater Manchester, and as one of the teams bumping along the bottom of the group we had high hopes for a solid score line. A win was all we needed to progress to the semi finals. However the Oxford girls were not making the most of their chances, and we were losing frames left right and centre. It began to dawn on the team that we might not get the win we required. Some quick maths to work out the frame difference and what we needed to win took place, and we realised at 9-9 that we had already done enough to ensure progression to the knockout stages. The final score was 11-9 to GMC, but all we cared about was getting our spot.
Sunday lunchtime saw us prepare to face Hampshire – a team we know well from our previous region. Last years reigning national champions, make no mistake these guys are good. But perhaps this year Oxford were up to the task?
Sadly we got off to a poor start, only winning 1 frame in the first 5. Against a team like Hampshire you simply can’t afford to do that, and the match continued in that vein. Final score 11-3 to Hampshire.
Special mention to Claire Brown, who topped the ladies rankings finishing on 67%