Death of man who played prominent role in snooker ‘boom’ in Ballymena

DESMOND Moore, who died earlier this month, a day after his 64th birthday, was a prominent figure in snooker circles as the proprietor for one of Northern Ireland’s top clubs.

Dessie, as he was known to his many friends, was the genial Mine Host of the 147 club in Ballymena until its closure about 10 years ago.

With nine tables, the ‘147’ was the biggest and busiest club in the town during the 1980s and 90s, when Ballymena rivalled Belfast for the unofficial title of the country’s snooker capital.

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Then, snooker’s popularity was at a peak across the Province, with Dessie’s clubrooms at Gilmore Street hosting the second most important event on the cue calendar - the Ulster Open Classic.

Year after year, the cream of the country’s talent converged on the venue to vie for the big prize. Among them were Sammy Pavis, best-known as one of Linfield’s finest post-war strikers; Andy Sharpe, from Carrickfergus; Dunmurry’s Joe Swail; and, heading the local challenge, Kieran Erwin and Paul Doran, the latter still the only local player whose name is engraved on the NI championship trophy.

Swail, in particular, has fond memories of the Classic, which provided him with his first ranking tournament trophy before he embarked on the professional circuit.

After leaving school, Dessie joined his father’s quarrying business. In the 1970s, the family headed to Australia, where Dessie secured employment in the manufacture of snooker tables.

Subsequently, Dessie and his wife Patricia ran an hotel in Brechin, on the east coast of Scotland, before returning to Ballymena.

Patricia spoke proudly of her husband’s involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous, where, for 35 years, he provided valuable counselling for people with drink problems.

Although his health deteriorated in recent years, his sudden death at his Grangegorm Drive home on October 10, came as a profound shock to Patricia - to whom he was married for 41 years - and to his family.

Dessie is also survived by sons David and Desmond, daughter Kyra, brother Stephen, with whom he managed the Linenhall Bar on Linenhall Street for some years, and sister Karen.

Desmond Jnr was a talented performer on the green baize as a member of the 147 Club’s top team which contested the local league’s awards with the Antrim-based Castle Kings and the Granville club.

In a tribute Ronnie McCart, the Ballymena league chairman, said Dessie had played a significant role in enhancing the profile of snooker, both in Ballymena and across the Province.

“He ran a great club and I was saddened to learn of his sudden passing,” added Ronnie.

Following a service at his home, Dessie was laid to rest in Buckna Cemetery. Sympathy is extended to his devoted wife, sons, daughter and the wider family circle.

Billy Spence