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Ronan McCarthy claims IPA Welsh Pro crown over Jordan Shepherd

Sean Trivass | March 14, 2016

And so the pool is over for another tour event, but instead of being downhearted we look forward to Bradford in May and the next on the five-event IPA Pool tour that is now seen as leading the sport worldwide.

Two more finals took place on Sunday with the Amateurs taking centre stage for a large chunk of the day and the professionals for the rest. Telling the difference is becoming more and more difficult such is the high standard expected and achieved at this level.

With a full weekend booked and paid for we had a pretty decent number of players hanging around to watch the later stagers, as well as the locals popping in and out (we warmly welcome spectators online and in person on the IPA Tour), making for an even more tense atmosphere.

There’s real kudos attached to winning any of these events, such is the standard of competition. That sort of pressure started to tell on some of the players but, as they fell away one by one in the Amateurs, we ended up with a semi-final lineup of Jez Graham v Sean Stebbings and the in-form Chris Bowron v Dean Lapham.

Graham edged his match 6-5, while Bowron romped to a 6-1 scoreline. The latter repeated final success with a 6-4 victory and the Crown of Welsh Amateur Champion.

Meanwhile, on the livestream table, we had a superb line up of Jordan Shepherd v Ronan McCarthy in the professional final and if we could choose a line up, this would have been close to perfect.

Both are top-class players without a doubt, both are respected by their fellow professionals, and more than capable of winning any title, but the similarity ends there.

Shepherd is swashbuckling, possibly even reckless on occasions, but on his day can pot a ball off the lampshade, an entertainer and very popular with all his fans.

Jack_Shepherd_alt

McCarthy, meanwhile, is the face of Irish pool, meticulous, focused and methodical in his play. Regardless of the shot, simple or close to impossible, he has a set up routine that he rarely differs from, and takes the same amount of time per shot – even a simple tap in.

So, with the stage set, the final was off and running and Ronan was the fasted out of the traps as he took the first three frames to build up a 3-0 lead in this race to eight.

Ronan_inset_alt

Jordan got off the mark in frame four only to see his opponent take the next, but those who know him would never write off Shepherd regardless of the score. Sure enough, he quickly rattled off the next three frames to make it all level at 4-4 before they shared the next four frames to remain level at 6-6.

We couldn’t call it before the match started, and we still couldn’t call it 12 frames in but, to cut a long story short, Ronan rattled off the last two and is the new Welsh Professional Champion.

Ronan_McCarthy_inset

All in all, a good time was had by everyone on tour and the compliments have been flooding in ever since, with some already asking how to book their places for the 2017 tour, so the IPA must be doing something right.

The support of Coral and the ability to bet on the main games has been a popular innovation, as have the technical breakthroughs and increased media exposure, and we can’t wait until the next tour event in Bradford starting May 13th – one for everyone’s diary.

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