Aaron Canavan extended his record of CI Snooker Championship titles by beating Guernsey champion Adam Shorto in a pulsating match at the North Social Club.
Acclaimed as the greatest match seen in the islands, Canavan held his nerve to stem Shorto’s fightback with the trickiest of cuts on the final black of a deciding ninth frame.
It was a match that had everything – even the most bizarre of opening frames where neither player could muster a break in double figures – as the two island champions sparred in a true heavyweight snooker contest.
The opening frame was also decided on the black, but only after Shorto missed an opportunity to land on it following the pink and Canavan punished him with his first of many special shots.
That didn’t phase Shorto, though, as it was he who appeared to properly settle and, having levelled the match, he produced the first notable contribution with a break of 59 to take a 2-1 lead.
The three frames proved to be what Canavan needed to get used to the conditions though, as he then went on an irresistible run of potting either side of the interval.
It started with a measured 34 and was followed by a 79 clearance of pinpoint accuracy to make it 2-2. A poor break-off from Shorto in the fifth let the Jersey champion in again, and breaks of 61 and 55 had the large gathering of Guernsey supporters fearing the worst.
Those concerns grew despite Shorto opening with a 35 in the next, as Canavan somehow found a pot to the middle for a 63 to move to within one frame of the title, and the trophy was all but in his hands as he followed it with a break of 64 in the seventh. A rare miss when potting the pink let Shorto in for one more chance, and he grabbed it with the most astonishing of clearances.
There was still more work for Shorto to do, though, and he again kept his composure in check with a break of 65 to force a decider. The last frame brought some early jousting, but a key moment came as Canavan’s roll up to the blue fell short and, after two misses having been asked to play again, he then presented Shorto’s opportunity. A break of 16 meant one more red and black would be enough for Shorto to win a third CI crown, but a long pot to the green bag agonisingly wobbled in the jaws.
Few believed that would be Shorto’s last shot, but when Canavan methodically picked off the remaining reds and then expertly brought the last pink off the side cushion, the writing was on the wall. That changed when Canavan overran his position from pink to black and it looked like there could be one more twist in a thrilling encounter, but he exquisitely cut the final black that brought a fist pump of both delight and relief in securing a tenth CI title.