The evergreen Peter Gilchrist produced a thrilling comeback victory as he ousted David Causier 577-517 in the final to win the 2023 World Billiards Irish Open at the Snooker & Billiards Academy in Carlow.
The opening part to a massive World Billiards double header on the Emerald Isle, all the world’s top 15 players competed in the Irish Open and there was representation from 10 different countries.
Four-time world champion Gilchrist had no issues qualifying for the knockout phase as he comfortably won all four of his group matches and made nine three-figure contributions in the process, including a 306.
The Singaporean citizen then eliminated Christian Kirk 614-325 in the last 16, Ryan Mears 597-270 in the quarter-finals and dethroned defending champion Robert Hall 614-324 in the semi-finals. The encounter with the in-form Hall was a repeat of last year’s final here.
Coming through the other half of the draw was reigning world champion and world number one Causier, who flew his way into the latter rounds with a plethora of very big breaks. During his last 16 meeting with Kenny Campbell, Causier hit a 454, and later in the same match crafted an unfinished effort of 504 – which would stand as the event’s highest break.
The Middlesbrough cueist was in big trouble, though, when he faced Peter Sheehan in the semi-finals. Following a break of 327 from his opponent, Causier came to the table nearly 300 points adrift. However, with runs of 325 and 63, he turned things around with change to spare to reach the final.
The 90-minute title match was a showdown between the top two ranked players in the world, a rerun of the world championship final held in Singapore a few months back, and with both competitors seeking their sixth title of the 2022/23 season.
After Gilchrist miscued at the top of the table early on, Causier punished with a break of 354 to put himself in the driving seat with a lead of 333 points.
Gilchrist still trailed by 321 points in the second half of the match, but following a miss from his opponent, he compiled a sensational break of 428 under pressure to go in front with time wearing thin.
There was still a chance for Causier to create a grandstand finish, but he was unable to counter-attack and it would be Gilchrist celebrating with the trophy later on.
In the Challenge Cup, Northern Ireland’s Korbin Lowe defeated Scotland’s Alan Shepherd 204-175 in the final to claim the title.
Attention now turns to the World Matchplay Championship – the sport’s second biggest event – at the same venue over the next five days.