MIKE Finn dismissed thoughts that he was good enough to earn a living on the professional snooker circuit despite being back in the race for a Q School place after his victory at Salisbury Snooker Club.
Southampton’s six-time Town champion defeated his Churchills A team-mate Billy Castle 3-0 in 36 minutes to win the fourth leg of the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
Castle was actually in first in all three frames at the Tollgate Round venue. He broke down on 13 in the opener before Finn helped himself to a 72.
He broke down on 12 in the next and, after his 30-year-old opponent from Eastleigh failed to capitalise, snookered himself on a run of 36.
A 52-clearance to the black made it 2-0 and after the 24-year-old had broken down on eight in the third, Finn did most of the damage with a break of 42.
“I managed to play well in the final,” said Finn. “I played rubbish all day, absolutely terrible, just scrapped it out.
“But I found some form in the final, which was good. It was a pretty key clearance in the second frame.”
Finn, the fourth different winner of the four legs this season, pocketed £160 prize money for winning the event.
However, there will be no travelling the world and living out of a suitcase for the liability claims handler if he were to win the rankings title and claim the Q School place and subsequently qualify for a two-year professional tour card.
“No way,” he insists. “You’ve got to be seriously good to earn money at that game. And I’m not good enough. I’d go to Q School and, if I somehow managed to qualify, I’d just play in the World Championship and the UK Championship. I just enjoy competing. I know there’s a real decent result in me somewhere.”
Castle (Reading), who won the second leg at Chandler’s Ford SC, leads Seb Worrall (Swindon) by 12 points. Finn is ten points further back in third.
Jordan Winbourne (Southampton), winner of the third leg in Havant, missed out on qualification for the knockout on frames average after losing to Ronnie Blake (London) 2-0. But he was also nearly defeated in his first match. Martin Wallace (Wokingham) led the 20-year-old by 13 points with pink and black remaining in the decider – and lost on a re-spotted black.
Leg-one winner Worrall, beaten 3-2 by Castle in the last-eight, recorded the day’s highest break of 123 in his second group-stage match against Andrew Seymour (Newbury).
Castle had claimed the best runners-up spot in the quarter-finals by overcoming 14-year-old Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) in a one-frame play-off. The pair had finished the round-robin stage with an identical frames average. And two-time champion Matt Ford (Bracknell) had said his goodbyes and was on the verge of leaving the club after losing to Rikki Moore (Bournemouth) when it was pointed out that he could still qualify if Mike Trigg (East Wellow) beat Moore in their final group match.
Ford, who had reached the knockout in all of his 15 previous outings, watched Trigg battle back from 1-0 down to prevail 2-1 – thanks, in no small part, to a three-ball plant in the decider.
The phoenix from the flames story was coming to fruition as Ford dispatched Reece King (Bournemouth) 3-1 in the last-eight and then clawed back a two-frame deficit to force a decider against Castle in the semi-finals. But despite leading for most of the frame, Ford lost on the final black.
The fifth leg of eight is at Fareham Snooker Club on Sunday, January 15.
Seb Worrall: 123.
Adam Nash: 86.
Billy Castle: 75, 71, 65.
Richard Clark: 73, 56.
Christian Chislett: 73.
Mike Finn: 72, 56, 52.
Mike Talmondt: 71, 51, 50.
Rikki Moore: 55, 53.
Neil Herd: 55.
Brad Chappell: 54.
Jordan Winbourne: 52.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Jordan Winbourne (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, Neil Winkworth (Crucible, Newbury); 4th, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 5th, David Rice (Salisbury SC).
GROUP B: 1st, Mike Finn (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Brad Chappell (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Adam Nash (Churchills, Eastleigh); 4th, Richard Clark (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Richard Arnold (Salisbury SC).
GROUP C: 1st, Mike Talmondt (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 2nd, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC); 4th, Grant Mason (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 5th, Ricky Hong Chin (Frames, Coulsdon).
GROUP D: 1st, Christian Chislett (Selsey RBL, Chichester); 2nd, Billy Castle (Crucible, Newbury); 3rd, Gavin Rogers (Branksome Cons Club); 4th, Sean Pender (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).
GROUP E: 1st, Reece King (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Mark Wells (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Neil Herd (Salisbury SC); 4th, James Budd (Fareham SC).
GROUP F: 1st, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club); 2nd, Henry Eastwood (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, Rikki Moore (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, Mike Trigg (Chandler’s Ford SC).
GROUP G: 1st, Seb Worrall (Jesters, Swindon); 2nd, Jake Baker (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Andrew Seymour (Crucible, Newbury); 4th, Labeeb Ahmed.
QUARTER-FINALS (24 points): Talmondt 3 Chislett 2, Finn 3 Blake 1, Ford 3 King 1, Castle 3 Worrall 2.
SEMI-FINALS (£35, 30 points): Finn 3 Talmondt 0, Castle 3 Ford 2.
FINAL (£160/£80 50/36 points): Finn 3 Castle 0.