Lee McCutcheon finished runner-up in the Junior Pool World Championships in Blackpool last weekend. The Kesh resident breezed through the knockout rounds of the prestigious competition before losing out in a closely contested final.

It was a remarkable achievement for the 16 year old who was competing against players up to two years older, and he admitted his success was surprising.

“I had no expectations at all and I was shocked to bring a trophy home with me,” admitted Lee.

“I got a bye through the first round and that got me into the last 64. I won every match from there on in in an open draw knockout. The first two matches were first to six, the quarter and semi-finals were to seven and the final was first to eight. I never really had any close games. In the quarter final I was 4-2 down and won 7-4 so that was probably the only scare I had.”

The final pitched him against an English opponent and the pair shared the first eight games evenly before things went against Lee.

“There wasn’t much I could have done,” he said.

“In the final I was playing against Danyal Hussain from England, but I didn’t know anything about him. I had never seen him before. It was four all but then I only got one shot in the last four games, so there wasn’t much I could have done about that. I’ll take being number two at the minute!”

Lee had honed his pool skills in the Mayfly Inn in Kesh before joining a local Enniskillen pool club, and it was quickly obvious that he had a talent for the sport. A year ago he started playing regularly in the league, and he caught the eye of the Northern Ireland selectors who drafted him into the national team.

That paved the way for him to enter the Junior World Championships, where he proved he has the cue skills to match the best Under 18 players in the world.

“It took a lot of hours and a lot of hard work,” Lee acknowledged. “I would have played in the bar in the Mayfly, but then I joined a pool club called Toosies Pool Academy and it went from there. There are tournaments around Northern Ireland and I started attending them. There is not a bad player in Northern Ireland at the competitions and its always very tough. Then I got asked to play for the Junior Northern Ireland team and that was how it all started.”

Having come so close to winning the overall title, Lee is now keen to go one better. He is still eligible for the Under 18 title next year, and admits he would like to have another crack at winning the trophy.

“I will just keep practicing and go again,” he said. “That means putting the hours in, because if you don’t do that you won’t achieve anything. Next year will be my last chance at it so I will give it another go and see how I get on.”