Leitrim Pool enjoyed one of their most successful weekends in their history as the Men’s Junior team won the All-Ireland Inter-County League and Aughnasheelin’s Kevin McWeeney was crowned both U-18 and U-21 champion on the same weekend.
McWeeney’s achievement in winning both titles is an historic first for the sport and all the more remarkble as he is only 16 years of age! The Aughnasheelin lad was also a member of the Junior squad who defeated Wexford to take the title. The County Seniors were denied their share of glory when they were defeated in the Plate Semi-Finals.
Kevin McWeeney played Meath’s Conor O’Boyle (Meath) in the U21 Final and after going behind, Kevin levelled at 1-1 only for O’Boyle to fluke a yellow on his way to winning frame 3. O’Boyle then won frames 4 and 5 to take an ominous looking 4-1 advantage.
However, Kevin showed maturity beyond his 16 years to hold his nerve and come storming back into the match winning four frames on the bounce to take a 5-4 lead. With O’Boyle twice pulling back frames, Kevin held his nerve with an unbelievable pot on the black to become the U-21 Irish Champion 2012.
Kevin wasn’t finished as he then had to play the U-18 Individual Final against Jordan Gorman from Belfast. Jordan went 3-2 up but Kevin upped his game rattling off five frames in a row, playing unbelievable pool to become the first player to hold the U18 and U21 titles in the same year.
In the Junior team competition, Leitrim juniors were in a round robin group along with defending champions Tyrone ‘A’, Wexford ‘A’, Wexford ‘B’, Westmeath and Tyrone ‘B’. With wins for Kevin McWeeney, Jamie Gaffney (2), Keith Conlon & Joe McGuire against Westmeath, it was 5-5 going into the last set bBut wins for Kevin, Jamie and Daragh O’Shea meant victory for Leitrim 8-5.
Up next was a tough test in defending champions Tyrone ‘A’, who were also going for their third All-Ireland in a row. Wins for Jamie, Stephen Gordon, Joe, Keith and Kevin left the scores at 7-7 but up popped Stephen Gordon with an excellent finish beyond his 15 years to win the match 8-7.
Our third game was against Wexford ‘B’ team and after losing the first set 3-2, It was nip and tuck. Indeed going to the last black which Daragh O’Shea coolly potted under pressure to snatch the victory 8-7. Next up was Tyrone ‘B’. After trailing the first set 3-2, with our wins from Kevin and Stephen, we led 6-4 after set 2. Keith and Joe got the wins to leave us victorious 8-6 and unbeaten in our 4 matches.
So to the semi-finals where we again met defending champions Tyrone ‘A’. In another titanic battle, it was 5-5 going into the last set. Joe narrowly lost out in the first frame; however Jamie held his nerve in a tactical frame to level it at 6-6. Kevin had an excellent finish to put us 7-6 up and one frame from the final. Stephen lost out having had to watch from break off, his opponent Carl Martin pull out and excellent finish.
It was down to the last and deciding frame and our man of steel Keith Conlon. However, while most of the audience were losing their nerves, there was one lad who wasn’t and Keith duly stepped up and potted the black to send Leitrim through to the All-Ireland final for the first time in their history! In the final we faced a Wexford ‘A’ team which we hadn’t played in the group stages. In frame 1, Diarmuid Cullen got the better of Joe McGuire to leave us 0-1 behind. Jamie Gaffney got us back on track, and this was followed by wins for Kevin McWeeney, Keith Conlon and Stephen Gordon to leave us 4-1 up after the first set.
Joe carried the good run on by winning the first frame of the second set to put us 5-1 up. Next up Jamie and Kevin then made it 6 & 7 and it was left to Keith Conlon to pot another winning black to make history and he duly did so to win the match 8-1 and alas our quest had ended with Leitrim crowned All Ireland Junior Champions 2012!
Junior Squad: Kevin McWeeney, Jamie Gaffney, Joe McGuire, Keith Conlon, Stephen Gordon, Daragh O’Shea, David McWeeney, Paul Christie
Leitrim Pool News
Seniors: The seniors were pitted in a tough group along with Limerick, Mayo, Meath, Wexford B and Galway. First up was Limerick and leading from the front was captain, Gavin Donnelly getting us off to the perfect start as we went on to win 14-7. Next up was Wexford ‘B’. Buoyed by a great team spirit we won seven out of the last eight frames, with young Jamie Gaffney holding his nerve in difficult circumstances to clinch victory 14-12.
We played Galway on Saturday and found ourselves trailing 10-8 after the second session. Again, we won five of the next six frames to leave us one from victory. Up stepped Steven Gordon, playing his first ever game for the seniors at 15 years of age, potting a superb black to send us to our third victory.
A very strong Mayo team were up next. Unfortunately we got off to a slow start from which we never recovered and the more experienced Mayo team ran out 14-7 winners.
That left a straight fight between ourselves and Meath for the last spot in the quarter-finals, with the loser going into the inaugural plate competition. After the first set, we were 5-4 in front but Meath were to close out the match with 10 frames to two to send us to the Plate competition.
In the plate competition, we played Wexford C in the quarter finals. After a blistering start, Leitrim powered into the semi-finals against Wexford B. After the first set Leitrim led 5-4, however Wexford went on to win the second set 6-3 before rattling off four of the next five to clinch their spot in the final, where they went on to lose to Wexford A.
Frames won over the weekend were: Colin Crossan 13, Hugh Kielty 12, Gavin Donnelly, Joe McGuire, Kevin McWeeney 10, Jamie Gaffney, Hugh Moffatt 7, Daragh McQuaid 6, Keith Conlon 5, Stephen Gordon 1.