10 Year old Grace Byrne from Ballinabranna in Carlow won the Stars Academy Under 13 Championship at Sharkx Newbridge adding to her RILSA Under 12 title earlier in the year.
Grace made history by becoming the first girl to win a Stars Academy Junior title since its inception in 1981, when the late Dermot Dalton started the Stars of the Future events that were sponsored by Brenfer Jewellers of Capel Street Dublin for 22 years.
Now our top professional Fergal O’Brien also of Brenfer Jewellers has joined RILSA in helping promote the women’s and girls sport here in Ireland.
Grace is only playing snooker about 6 months and she has gone from strength to strength. She will certainly be one to watch for the future. Grace has qualified for the RILSA National Championship next weekend by reaching 12th place on the National Rankings after her first season with RILSA.
On her way to the final she had wins over Paul Fitzgerald in the Quarters and a good win over the current Under 12 Stars Academy Champion, Gavin Dowling for a place in the final. In the other half of the draw we saw Michael Dooley have good wins over Jack Connolly in the last 16, Kerrie Mulleney in the Quarters and Oisin Pagnier in the semis to meet Grace in the final.
The final was close to start with, however Grace took on some great pots and scored well among the balls for a convincing win over Michael.
Over the past few years we in RILSA have seen many positive changes within the sport at grass root level and especially within our schools. As the sport takes off at a rate never seen before with our positive initiatives and encouragement, we see that both boys and girls can play on a level playing field and are very accepting of each others successes. New era for cue sports is here and developing in a positive way especially towards females.
We take great pride in our work, seeing the fruits of our labour over the years emerge at grass root level is very encouraging indeed. The World is changing for cue sports and we are making great strides in making dreams come true for girls and women in their chosen sport.
Congratulations to Grace on her win and to Michael for a great performance.
Thanks to all the boys and girls for their participation and to all our schools, teachers and parents for such great support towards our efforts, we really appreciate this.
A big thank you to Bernie, Paul and staff of Sharkx for their continued help and support.