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Tyrone quintet tackle the ‘Blue Ball Challenge’ for the NHS

FIVE masters of the green baize from Tyrone have taken part in the Blue Ball Challenge in order to raise funds for the NHS.

The task, created by Jason Francis, is for snooker players to film themselves attempting to pot the blue ball from the baulk line 10 times in a row.

The Challenge got underway with Gary Filtness knocking in 10 blues in a row, followed by Stuart Bingham’s nine out of ten and Ali Carter’s eight.

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Dungannon’s former World Championship quarter-finalist, Patrick Wallace got the local blue ball rolling when he knocked in seven attempts out of 10 before Aughnacloy’s Glenn Montgomery went one better with eight. A Castlederg trio then tried their luck with former NI champion, Dermot McGlinchey recording a score of four before the father and son duo of Gary and Darragh Arkinson each knocked in seven blues.

The Challenge was particularly important to both Wallace and McGlinchey, who have witnessed the NHS in action over recent weeks.

Wallace’s mother was rushed to hospital during the early weeks of lockdown with pneumonia, leaving the family fearing the worst: “My mum was rushed into hospital with pneumonia and we were very very concerned that she was going to last a day, but the NHS have done a fantastic job, they saved her life and she’s back home, so this is very close to my heart trying to raise money for the NHS at this time,” he explained.

The Dungannon man hadn’t held a cue in three weeks before his attempt at the challenge but despite missing his first, fourth and sixth shots, he knocked in the seven remaining blues to record an impressive return of seven out of 10.
 
And as an added ‘bonus‘, Wallace then attempted the push-up challenge – to match the number of blue balls potted – handed down by Michael Judge, but that didn‘t go quite as well!
 
“That’s the sort of friends I have when they’re calling you out for things like that!,” laughed the winner of the last five Northern Ireland Ranking Tournaments played this season. “I thought I might as well go the whole hog and get the two things done at once and disgrace myself when I have 200 people watching on Facebook. But that, genuinely, was my first press-up in 30 years so I was happy to get five!
 
“[My potting] was better than average. If you’d offered me five blues beforehand I’d have taken it because I genuinely hadn’t played in three weeks and I was all over the place.
 
“Seven’s amazing, I’m really delighted. Truth be told, I had seven or eight practice attempts at potting blues and I didn’t get seven once so to get it when it counted is really, really pleasing.”

Dermot added: “It’s an honour to take part, especially on the week the World Championships were due to be on. I’m really proud and  honoured to have taken part in this challenge. I’ve been involved in snooker for a long time and it’s great to be able to do something like this for the NHS, which I have a personal connection with the NHS as my 
wife Noleen works in the NHS, so every donation will be greatly appreciated.”

Gary Arkinson, meanwhile, was also more than happy to participate in the Blue Ball Challenge, which is ongoing, saying: “We are all familiar with what is going on in the world and the strain it’s having on the entire population. We’re being told to social distance, we’re being told to stay at home and we’re trying to give the NHS every 
opportunity to try to deal with this thing.

“They are at the forefront and we need to give them as much support as possible. They need every single penny and the money is all going into the six regional hospitals in Northern Ireland.”

• To donate, visit justgiving.com and search for Patrick Wallace.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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