BRISTOL’S phenomenal young snooker player Aidan Murphy has collected his first winner’s trophy on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour.
The 13-year-old tasted success in the eighth leg at Salisbury Snooker Club less than four years after making his debut in the third tier of the junior circuit.
Murphy made his first Cuestars appearance in October, 2014 and won four Bronze tournaments in his maiden season.
He picked up a Silver winner’s trophy the follow year and is now in his second season in Gold.
Reflecting on his 2-0 victory over Anthony Rice (Fordingbridge) in the final, Murphy said: “I’ve not won one in ages so it gives me a bit of confidence. I played well.”
Earlier, in the group stages, he beat Arron Smith (Selsey) and Steven Hughes (Chandler’s Ford) by 2-0 scorelines but lost 2-0 to Jamie Wilson (Havant).
He then overcame England international Mickey Joyce (Basingstoke) 2-1 in the last-eight and English Under-14 Champion Olly Gibbs (Gosport) 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Murphy reckons the Gold Tour standard is “pretty good” but “sometimes” finds it hard to get going in the group stages.
“If I lose my first match, I don’t feel that great,” he explained.
“I prefer straight knockout to groups. It’s thinking about who’s winning and who’s losing.
“If you lose, you should be out.”
Murphy – who is sponsored by Elite Mobility, Hanham Flooring Centre and NH Couriers – is now just two points behind rankings leader Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) with two legs remaining.
As well as the Cuestars circuit, Murphy competes on the EASB Regional Junior Tour South.
Nationally, he reached the semi-finals of this year’s English Under-14 Championship and he faces another trip to Leeds later this month for the last-16 of the English Under-18 Championship.
Rice recorded the day’s highest break of 80 (which he insisted was “full of flukes”) in the second frame of his 2-0 group-stage victory over Elliott Weston (Portsmouth).
Weston qualified for the knockout for the first time but was knocked out 2-1 by Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) in the last-eight of the event sponsored by Attic Life and TopCue.
Only nine points separate the top four of Cowdroy, Murphy, Rice and Connor Benzey (Eastleigh) going into the ninth leg of ten at the 147 Snooker Club, Swindon, on Sunday, April 22.
For more information about loft conversion specialists Attic Life, go to www.atticlife.co.uk. To visit Salisbury-based TopCue, which supplies snooker and pool cues and a range of accessories, go to www.topcue.co.uk.
Anthony Rice: 80, 64, 42.
Olly Gibbs: 56.
Aidan Murphy: 48.
Mickey Joyce: 44.
Jamie Wilson: 44.
Elliott Weston: 41, 40.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Olly Gibbs (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Callum McDonald (Salisbury SC); 5th, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Mickey Joyce (Academy, Basingstoke); 3rd, Elliott Weston (Top Spot, Havant); 4th, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Aidan Murphy (Fishponds Cons Club, Bristol); 2nd, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 4th, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL, Chichester).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): O Sykes 2-1 Weston, Rice 2-0 R Hughes, Murphy 2-1 Joyce, Gibbs 2-0 S Hughes.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Rice 2-0 O Sykes, Murphy 2-0 Gibbs.
FINAL (£70/£35, 25/18 points): Murphy 2-0 Rice.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)