Irish hopefuls aiming for Masters joy
Husband and wife duo, Joe and Pauline Beattie, will head a strong Ireland challenge in the Swedish Masters Singles – the first Short Mat Players' Tour event of the New Year.
With 84 players on the starting grid for the £500 top prize, the Armagh pair will be joined by 11 other Irish hopefuls at Stromstad on January 11.
Joe Beattie has previously savoured success on the tour, having won the UK singles title in September. He defeated his Armagh team mate, Jal Richardson, in the final at Bromsgrove, England.
It's no surprise that Richardson's name is again in the hat. Also included are Foyle's Mark Beattie, winner of the UK Open back in August, Noel Donnell, Kyle Lynch, Gary Moore and Simon Dunaghy; Cecil Dillon and Robert Kidd, from West Down; Lisa Douglas (North West) and Emma Colgan (Oriel).
Mid Antrim's William Morrison completes the Irish line-up. The 1st Ahoghill man goes into the tournament in the best possible shape, having won the most recent Players' Tour competition in November – the World Pairs in England. Ironically, he was partnered by Richardson on that occasion.
"Northern Ireland players really have a great record this season's tournaments, there is no question about that," said Short Mat Tour director, Phil Mills.
"Andrew Leckey won the Irish Open and Joe Beattie lifted the UK title, while Alan Paul was successful in the World Masters back in April.
"They are coming over in big numbers for the Swedish Masters and they'll be determined to make an impact once again.
"The Tour has certainly caught the imagination of the short mat family. We had the 'house full' signs up weeks before Christmas for the Swedish tournament."
Joe Beattie and Kidd have unfortunately been drawn in the same section, which also includes, Swedish trio Hakan Fredriksson, Johnny Nystrom and Dick Almen.
And, the draw was unkind to Richardson, Donnell and Lynch who all came out of the hat in Group M. They will be joined by Belgian pair Sibe Laureys and Jonathan Payne, a former European Masters winner.
The Windsor Bakery sponsored West Down League has reached the half way stage with a familiar look about the Division One table.
All Saints, Tullylish, the reigning champions, have established a healthy lead.
With all teams having played seven games the table reads: All Saints 44pts, St Joseph's (28.5), St Coleman's (27.5), St Patrick's (23.5), Holm Park (22.5), Magherally (22.5), Ballydougan (18.5) Scarva St Presbyterian (9).