Isle of Man Billiards and Snooker Association’s Doug Kinrade Handicap finals night was held at Finch Hill last week, consisting of four players across a wide range of handicaps who qualified from the original entry of 32.  

The semi-final draw saw Tom Miller (-14) v Dave Kelly (49) and Graham Ashton (42) v Mike Crook (21). Miller was the only player to have lifted the trophy before, having done so on a number of occasions going back around 30 years. 

Both best-of-three semis were incredibly close as Miller took frame one on the pink and had his chance to wrap it up in the next with attempts on the black before Kelly levelled. The final frame was similarly close but Kelly held his nerve to pot match ball pink.  

Not surprisingly, progress in the other match was slower. Ashton took the first on the blue 69-42 which included a 24 from him.  

A re-rack was agreed in frame two several minutes into it, then Crook found some form from somewhere to hit a 31 and, after a marathon battle on the pink, took it to a decider, 61-76.  

Crook broke off badly and in an instant was 36 behind and things got better still for Ashton as he increased it to 50-0. With nothing to lose, Crook let his arm go and made a 29 break but this looked in vain as Ashton replied immediately with a well-taken 24. 

Crook needed a snooker on the final red and Ashton went in-off. Crook potted a long straight red and got the high colour he needed, then potted yellow, green and brown. The comeback looked over when Ashton potted the blue, leaving Crook requiring two snookers on the pink with the black on its spot.  

Amazingly the feat was quickly achieved as Ashton was unable to escape and conceded seven and then six points. Crook potted the pink but missed the black, cueing off the cushion. Ashton left Crook a ‘shot to nothing’ into the bottom left bag, cueing from the green spot.  

He potted the black but congratulations were halted as the white tracked off the bottom and side cushion and dropped, pocket weight into the green bag! Frame and match to Ashton 96-88. 

Because of the time taken, it was rightly decided the final be played as a best of three frames as opposed to the usual five. Needless to say, it was pretty nervy. Kelly was always ahead in the first and left Ashton needing a snooker after potting the blue and took it 67-41.  

In frame two Ashton built up a lead of 30 with five reds left, meaning Kelly needed a snooker on the brown and looked to have got it as he stunned in behind the black. Unfortunately for him, he’d just played the perfect cocked hat shot and the brown disappeared into the middle and snookered himself! Frame to Ashton 61-31. 

And so to the decider where colours were hard to come by. Ashton fluked the last red and took a brown with it to go 10 ahead, then also took yellow, green and brown to go 19 up and Kelly required a snooker.  

Ashton cut in the blue but the cueball very nearly went in which would’ve given Kelly hope. Soon after though, Kelly left the pink hanging while looking for snookers and the handshake came, frame and match to Ashton 46-22. 

Congratulations go to Ashton who is another first-time winner of an association event - he now has a place in the Champion of Champions to look forward to.  

Unlucky for Kelly but he took some good scalps along the way including team-mate Paul Smyth, defending champion Barton Beaumont, Marek Kenny and Miller. 

Special mention to all the players who competed hard but showed excellent sportsmanship throughout. 

Thanks to referees Ken Kinrade and John Spellman, the Kinrade family for refreshments, the spectators and the Finch Hill venue.