It was a memorable weekend in Daventry for Northern Irish pool as professionals Emma Cunningham and Ronan McCarthy won their maiden Ultimate Pool titles during the first-ever Mini Series staging.
Four-time world champion Emma Cunningham enjoyed her best weekend on the Ultimate Pool circuit, so far, as she secured the Women’s Mini Series title.
‘The Wookie’ won all three of her group games – dropping just three frames – to finish top of Group A and qualify for the last 32 knockouts. There, she eliminated a string of high-profile opponents – all with significant titles to their names.
Cunningham defeated former Home Nations Singles Champion Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls 4-1, former world blackball champion Mika Roonay 4-3, current world blackball champion and number one Women’s Series player Harriet Haynes 5-2, and then former national champion Danielle Randle, 5-3, in the semi-finals.
On the other side of the draw, Kerry Griffiths also endured a tough route to the title match. Having emerged from a tricky group, the English cueist worked her way through the knockouts; stopping former world champion Kirsty Lee-Davies 5-1 in the other last four tie.
However, a resurgent Cunningham was not to be denied the title and a £1,200 payday as she produced a classy performance during a 6-1 victory in the final.
After a difficult few months on the professional scene, McCarthy was back adding another big title to his illustrious CV in the Seniors Mini Series.
One of the sport’s most popular characters, McCarthy was vintage at the Daventry Court Mercure Hotel as he banked a £1,800 payday as the last player standing from a stacked field of 128 players.
‘The Babe’ won five of his seven group games to finish second in his group and qualify for the last 64 where he saw off Neal Jackson 4-2, fellow professional and former European Champion Dylan Leary 4-2, Lee Ross 4-0, Andy Appleton 4-3 and Phil Green 5-1.
McCarthy’s opponent in the final was another all-time legend of the sport in Keith Brewer, who was making his Ultimate Pool debut.
Winner of countless major titles and accolades, Brewer adapted very well to the rules and environment, easing through his group before knockout victories including over Martin Hazell and Dave Arnold in the last eight and four respectively.
In a classic final, all eight frames went with break as Brewer cleared in the last of those with just seconds remaining to force a dramatic 6-red shootout where McCarthy set a time of 33 seconds that Brewer could not better.
In the plate competitions, there was joy for Lyndsey Roberts and Lee Kendall as they claimed the Women’s and Seniors titles respectively.
A world team champion with England, Roberts didn’t drop a single frame during her first three matches before successes over Morgan Peach 4-2 in the semi-finals and Jodie Allen 5-1 in the final.
Kendall – another of the sport’s all-time greats with his contributions both on and off the table – bounced back with a fine run of results on Sunday, relinquishing only three frames during the opening four rounds before ousting Vikas Sabharwal 4-3 in the last four and seeing off Steve Tedds 5-1 in the final.