Mark McPeak and Stuart Bennett today begin their journey in the World Indoor Pairs Championship but they are still some way off a first round place.
The Irish duo booked their ticket to the big stage at Potters Leisure Resort by winning the Professional Players’ Association’s qualifier back in October.
With an exciting first round tie against their former team mate Jonathan Ross, who now wears the blue of Scotland, and Wales’ Robert Weale up for grabs - that game is scheduled for Saturday - Bennett and McPeak must first negotiate a gruelling preliminary three-way shoot-out.
They will face South Africa’s Shawn Nell and Anslem McLean in their opening match this morning before lining out against Israel’s Harris Green and Daniel Alonin.
In the event of them topping their group, the Watson Stadium boys would then go head to head tomorrow with the winners of another section in a ‘winner takes all’ affair!
In the other group, Neil Furman and Bill Brualt (USA) will battle it out with three other pairs, Steve Halmia and Jason Carpenter (New Zealand); Kevin Jones and Laura Hudson (Canada) and Ken Chan and Robin Chok, from China.
“We must play four matches before we can even start to think about the first round, which is tough going,” admitted McPeak.
“You can’t afford to look too far ahead, just take one game at a time. We’ll see where it takes us. It certainly would be special to reach the first round proper.”
World pairs draw, first round: D Burnett, S Anderson (Scotland) v R Chisholm, R Owen (Wales); J Price, J Greenslade (Wales) v England play-off winners; J Ross (Scotland), R Weale (Wales) v Preliminary play-off winners; G Harlow, N Brett (England) v A Barker, M Stepney (Scotland).
Round two: P Foster, A Marshall (Scotland) v winners of Anderson/Owen; R Paxton, S Skelton (England) v winners of Greenslade/England winners; A Thomson, M Royal (England) v winners of Weale/Preliminary qualifier; D Gourlay (Scotland), M King (England) v winners of Brett/Stepney.
n Oriel’s Gerry O’Hare insists complacency will not be an issue when his team entertain Lisburn tomorrow in the quarter finals of the IIBA Men’s Inter-zone Championship.
Following their gut-wrenching defeat by Armagh in last season’s final, Oriel in many ways have a point to prove in this campaign -- highlighted by their impressive first round victory over the holders back in October.
They are now favourites to regain the Boomer Cup, a trophy they won for the first time back in 2005.
“We got off to a great start, taking a little bit of revenge on Armagh and followed up that with an easy win over North Belfast,” said O’Hare.
“But this will be an entirely different proposition against a Lisburn side that has already enjoyed good wins over South & East Belfast and Mid Tyrone.
“In certain quarters we may be classed as favourites, but we don’t look at it that way. We just focus on the team in front off us.”
With top performers such as Kevin Conroy, Gerry McCabe, and Paul Duff in their ranks, Oriel certainly look the part, but they cannot afford to underestimate a Lisburn team that boasts the experienced Raymond Stubbs, Paul Reid, and Noel Graham.
The winner of this game can look forward to home advantage in the semi-final, where they will meet either Mid Ulster or Western, who clash at Magherafelt.
Mid Ulster are past masters in this event, having won the title on 10 occasions, but Western must go back to 2007 for the last of their seven triumphs.
Meanwhile, Foyle opened their campaign with a solid away victory over South Tyrone which earned them home advantage over North Eastern tomorrow.
However, this advantage may be negated somewhat with a posse of their players competing in the Swedish Masters over the weekend.
It’s a situation their visitors could well exploit, especially with international duo Uel McKeeman and Barry Kane, on board.
IIBA Men’s Inter-zone quarter finals: Oriel v Lisburn, Mid Ulster v Western, Foyle v North Eastern, North West v Monaghan.
IIBA Men’s Shield: Armagh v Donegal; Larne v South Down; South Tyrone v Mid Down; West Down v Cork.