Hundreds of the world’s best hotshots will descend on Killarney, Co Kerry, next month when, for the first time, Ireland hosts the World Pool Championships.
More than 400 players representing 16 countries including Australia, India, Morocco and South Africa will compete in a number of individual and team events which will be held at the INEC Gleneagle Hotel from October 19 to 27.
Mark Scally, chairman of the Irish Pool Association, which was founded in 1994, said they were “incredibly proud to be hosting the most prestigious annual event for the sport”, which will provide the Co Kerry town with a major financial boost during the off-peak season.
Mr Scally said several different competitions will be held throughout the championships, which will include men's and women's events, in addition to various age groups and a wheelchair-users section. The wheelchair section includes competitors from Ireland, Australia and Morocco. The latter country has been selected to host next year’s world championships.
Pool’s popularity has increased immeasurably in recent years and is now shown more often on television channels. Many of those taking part are well-known professionals, such as England’s Phil Harrison and Australia’s Jake McCartney.
Some of the match-ups at the INEC will be will be screened on Freesports. The TV company will also have an app available to download for free. There will also be games televised on the Ultimate Pool Group website.
It is expected that hundreds of Irish pool fans will also attend the tournament, especially as entry to all the matches is free. Mr Scally said between competitors, their partners and fans, many hundreds, if not more than 1,000 people, will stay in the Killarney area for the duration of the event, spending a sizeable amount of money in the area.
Irish fans will no doubt be hoping their team can repeat their feat of 2011 when they won the world team championship in England.
“It's a little-known fact that previous World 8 Ball Pool Champions include four-time world snooker champion Mark Selby, who has recently revisited his roots by joining the Ultimate Pool circuit in England, the main sponsors for this event in Killarney,” Mr Scally said.
“This shows just how much the game is growing both in Ireland and across the world. It may also be a little-known fact that Ireland were crowned world team champions in 2011, with the majority of those same team players still driving towards making history once more. Perhaps home advantage may see getting crowned again, be it a team or individual,” he added.