A FATHER and son will battle it out for national honours in the Ivy snooker rooms, Carlow, this afternoon, Friday.
In what will be a unique occasion Aidan Devenney (43) and his son Sean (17) from Letterkenny will contest the latter stages of the Irish National Senior and U18 championships respectively.
Members of the North West Snooker Club in Letterkenny, the two family members will take to the baize this afternoon.
Sean takes on Cork’s Aaron Hill in the 2018 National RIBSA U18 Snooker Championship final while Aidan has been drawn against fellow North West Snooker Club member John Connors in the last 16 stage of this year’s Irish national senior championship.
“Sean’s final gets underway at 2pm while I’m due out at 5pm. It’s probably unique to have a father and son playing in the national championships on the same day but, like Mark Williams (who won the World Snooker title on Monday night, aged 43 years) I’m ready to retire,” Aidan said.
A fifth year student at Coláiste Ailigh, Sean has been highly regarded within the sport these past few years. He was recently selected to represent Ireland at the World U18 and U18 Championships in China in July.
He’s already represented Ireland at the Celtic Challenge in Wales (both U14 and U16 level) while two years ago he travelled to Belgium to compete on the world stage.
Currently ranked number two, he will secure the Irish No 1 spot with a win this evening – a win that will see him being crowned National Champion.
To reach this year’s final he edged out Ardara’s Ronan Whyte (3-2), also a member North West Snooker Club, last month. Ronan, together with Hill and Ross Bulman will join Sean in the Irish U21 team in China.
This is Sean’s fourth national final this year and he’s more anxious that ever to secure his first win.
“He’s playing well enough. He just needs that little bit of luck to get him across the line. Hopefully that will come on Friday,” his father said.
Sean works part-time in Century Cinemas and his mother, Bridie, will take him home from Carlow after Friday’s final to make sure he’s back in time for work.
“He’s booked up all his holidays for China but Mark (Bradley) and the gang in the cinema have all been very good to him as has John Doherty in the snooker club. John opens the club at strange hours to allow Sean to practice while he has also given us use of the club car to attend tournaments,” he said.
A native of Wolfe Tone Place, Aidan lives in Ard Na Ri with his wife Bridie and sons Sean and PJ (9).
“I played a lot of snooker in the CYMS when I was younger but gave it up for a few years. When I started back I took Sean to the North West Snooker Club. He didn’t take to it initially – he was more into football – but once he noticed a few boys going away on trips with the Irish team he decided to knuckle down,” he laughed.
While Aidan, who has a highest break of 141, can’t recall when he first lost to Sean he does remember his son’s first century break against him.
“If we play seven times he’ll probably win six. He’s at a different standard but I can still win the odd one. That said, I’m down a good few fivers at this stage (they play for €5 in the best of seven frames)!” he quipped.
Quality players like Johnny Connors, Ronan Whyte and ex-pro Pete Donegan help to keep the Devenney’s on their toes at the Letterkenny club.
“We bounce off each other which is great. It helps everyone’s game,” he said.
“There’s six or seven around Sean’s age at the one level. Ronan (Whyte) beat Sean in the last final and he got revenge this time around. This is his fourth final since Christmas and he just needs that extra wee push now to go on and win one,” he said.
Sean is spending three to four hours each evening this week preparing for this weekend’s final while his father is also clocking up the hours.
“It’s a pity that I’ve been drawn to play Johnny (Connors) in the next round, but at least the North West club will have someone in this year’s last eight,” he said.
This is the first time that Aidan has reached the latter stages of the Irish Senior Championship and he’s determined to enjoy the experience.
“Maybe it’s about time that I thought about retiring and leaving the younger lads to it,” he said.
“I still enjoy the snooker. When people see us at the table they think we’re more like brothers than father and son which is nice to hear,” he said.
Aidan will travel to China with his son in July. Whether they go there as National champions only time will tell but it won’t be for the lack of effort.
“He’s a dedicated young man and deserves whatever success comes his way. He’s a credit,” Aidan said.
This is John's first trip to the World Championships where he will come up against full-time professionals.