World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) staged its first ever event in Ireland with eight winners crowned at the Snooker and Billiards Ireland Academy in Carlow.
The opening event of the 2023/24 WDBS Tour saw over 40 competitors descend upon the world class venue to compete across seven main classification tournaments, as well as a Challenge Cup tournament for players who did not qualify for the final day.
The weekend was supported by Snooker and Billiards Ireland – national governing body for snooker and billiards in the country – and also included a Friday Open Day session with support provided by WPBSA Snooker Coach Steve Rutter.
Ireland’s Daniel Kelly was one of three home champions at the Irish Open after he defeated Hong Kong’s Andy Lam 3-1 to top the Group 3 category for players with upper-body disabilities.
The pair each progressed from the round robin group stage with two wins from three to reach the final, with former Hull Open champion Lam looking to claim his second title on the WDBS Tour.
It was Kelly who would triumph, however, as he won the final two frames in the title match to secure his maiden gold medal.
The Irishman also made the highest break of the group with a run of 35 during the group stage.
Top ranked William Thomson captured his third title of 2023 following a 3-1 success against David Church in the final of the Group 4 classification tournament.
The pair were the standout players of their group throughout the weekend as each progressed to the final without the loss of a frame, but it was Scotland’s Thomson who got the better of his rival to earn his seventh WDBS triumph in all and consolidate his position at the head of the Group 4 rankings.
Thomson also recorded the highest break of the group with a run of 43 against Alan McDonagh in the early rounds.
England’s Dalton Lawrence maintained his 100% run on the WDBS Tour after he defeated home player John McCarthy 3-1 to claim victory.
Success for the Guildford player represents his second tour title following his debut success at the Belgian Open earlier this year and was hard earned after he reversed a group stage defeat to McCarthy to prevail in the title match.
McCarthy would have the consolation of having made the group high break of 42 during the group stage.
Ireland’s Oscar Ellison Gibbons defeated Aidan Pollitt 3-2 to win the Group 6A title and in doing so become one of the youngest ever winners on the WDBS Tour.
The 13-year-old enjoyed a dream debut as he topped the six-player round robin group stage with four match wins, before he saw off Niall Pollitt and brother Aidan in an all-Irish knockout stage to secure the gold medal.
In Group 6B there was a milestone victory for England’s Christopher Goldsworthy, who defeated Leroy Williams 3-1 to earn his maiden WDBS crown.
Goldsworthy was competing in his 16th WDBS title having joined the circuit in early 2019 and survived a scare in the group stages to qualify with just one victory from his four matches played, alongside multiple champions Williams, Matthew Haslam and former British Open finalist James Hart.
In the knockout rounds, however, he would produce his best snooker to win a hard-fought semi-final 2-0 against two-time champion Haslam, before he edged top ranked Williams in the title match to claim his first ever gold.
The highest break of the group was a run of 48 by Haslam in the group stage.
Ireland’s Dylan Rees earned his fifth WDBS ranking title following a hard fought 3-2 victory against compatriot Colvin O’Brien in Group 7.
It was O’Brien who struck first against the former group number one on the opening day in the group for players with visual disabilities, en route to topping the round robgin group stage, but Rees would turn the tables in the overall final to win his first title since the British Open back in January.
Rees would also claim the highest break not only of the group, but of the overall event following his run of 64 early in the event.
Luke Drennan made it back-to-back ranking titles in the deaf classification group following success against Gary Taylor in the final.
The 24-year-old did not make a promising start to the event as he lost his opening two matches against Lewis Knowles and Kristof De Bruyn, but would go on to win his remaining four matches of a super size seven-player group stage to cement his place in the knockout rounds.
There he would avenge his earlier defeat to Knowles in the semi-finals, before he repeated his Hull Open victory against Taylor in the title match to claim his second WDBS title.
Drennan would also make the highest break of the group in the final, with a wonderful run of 62 in the opening frame.
In the Challenge Cup event for players who did not qualify for the knockout rounds, there was a long-awaited victory for Group 7 player Ronnie Allen, after the 79-year-old saw off Nigel Brasier 2-0 to win his first WDBS title of any kind, having previously reached nine finals from 2018-2023.
The WDBS Tour will return with The Cube UK Championship from 15-17 September 2023, with entry for the event now open via WPBSA SnookerScores.