THE IRISH team which won the European Junior Pool Championships in Blackpool recently, dedicated their win to the late Michael Byrne from Marshalstown, a friend of one of the competitors.
The sad news of 17 year-old Michael's untimely passing was conveyed to the three Wexford members of the Irish team, during their week long stay in the UK. The seven strong team secured Ireland's first win in the competition, and during the tournament, they knocked out England in the semi-final - a team that had held the title for the past twelve years.
Team manager John Leacy from Enniscorthy, Gorey player Jordan Doyle (15), and Darren Redmond (16) and Adam Maher (13), from Enniscorthy, returned home to a celebration in Jimmy'z Bar in Riverchapel last week. There were also four players from Leitrim on the team.
Another celebration will be held in Enniscorthy in the near future, while the Irish Pool Association will also celebrate their success in Dublin this weekend.
Also there was Peter Lucas from Wexford, who was part of the three person Ireland team which won the Over 50s European Tournament.
John Leacy said that some members of the Junior team played in the World Championships last year, while others came up through the rankings of the Irish Pool Association.
'We weren't favourites to win,' he said. 'England won it for the last 12 years. It was the first time Ireland played and beat England in a group match in 12 years.'
The Irish lads beat England in the semi-final on a scoreline of 8-2. They went on to beat Northern Ireland in the final on a score of 8-4.
Darren and Adam play in Icons Pool and Snooker Club in Enniscorthy, while Jordan plays in Breakers Pool and Snooker Club in Gorey. 'It was a big achievement,' said John. 'The two clubs only opened three years ago. The three of them were on the team that won the All Ireland in May for Wexford, so they are Irish Under 15 Champions as well. Jordan also came third in the European Under 18 singles competition as well, which was a brilliant achievement, and he came third in the World last year.'
Proprietor Jimmy Fleming laid on food and a disco for the trio of players and their families and supporters, and they also played some exhibition matches.
'They are players of the future,' said John. 'We dedicated the win to Michael Byrne, who died while we were over there. He was a friend of Darren's.'