In 1974 a man named John Cunningham (Cunningham Cup) who some years earlier arrived back in Ireland from New York, settled in Newry with his family and bought a pub on the corner of Canal Street and Catherine Street, naming it 'J.Cunningham's '.
That was 1968. It was through J.P's knowledge that pool was big in the states that in 1974 he ordered his first pool table, the first pool table in a pub in Newry.
Since that first table arrived and due to the popularity around pool in J.Cunningham's, other pubs soon followed suit and a small committee mostly from Cunningham's arranged matches between bars. This is the place the idea of a Pool League was first formed. The pool team in Cunningham's was known as the Yanks and in a short while after the pub name was changed to 'The Yanks'.
The first all Newry League season would be the 1975/76 season and the committee reorganised itself and official positions had appointments of Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer and the idea was instead of just a few pubs playing matches against each other, it should be a proper League. It was men like John Cunningham, Herbie Preece, Billy McCutcheon a bit later Gerry Carolan and Jimmy Cunningham that drove the pool forward, implementing rules and adapting to situations to navigate the early league through its teething stages. Later it would be men like Dessie McGennity and Francie Loughran who would put in the time, which turned into years, even decades, to keep pool in Newry going and improving.
Newry pool can be proud of its standards, as now, at the time of writing, in the year 2023, a Newry Pool League player, Declan Brennan, became World Champion along with everything else there was to win and the Newry Pool Leagues true Ambassador, Paddy Clarke, the over 50s World Champion, this all presently, while Emma Cunningham has won almost everything there is to win, including Ladies World Championships and World Masters titles but just as important to us, is the fact that pool is played out of almost all the bars and definitely out of all the best bars in the area and as many as ever are playing and enjoying what so many enjoyed week in and week out for 50 years.
The first team to win the Newry Pool League was The Gaelic A (Nans) and the very first Individual Champion was Tommy McLaughlin who is still going strong.
We hope the camaraderie and sportsmanship between all players continues and perhaps in 50 years from now, future generations will look back with pride and honour at how this generation takes care of their game.
It is an amateur League with ordinary decent players, playing from diverse venues, whose support by and large has been unwavering.
We look forward to the League and the Cups Competitions this year and hope only for close exciting matches in the 2023/24 season.
This season, 2023/24 we honour the two stalwarts that were Dessie McGennity and Francie Loughran.
The main competition: Dessie McGennity Newry Pool League (NPL) Champions League Competition (Top 32) This competition was open to all, the only criteria was, you played in Newry Pool League for at least three season. Didn't matter what year. Sixteen top players were straight in to the top 32, the other players were chosen by 60 others playing matches to see who would get the remaining 16 places.
The Top 32 and each individuals position within that 32 will be determined by a league lasting almost a year. The winners will be honoured.
Those players who missed out on the Top 32 spot will also play for honour of position in a knockout Cup Competition ( Francie Loughran NPL 50 year, Commemorative Cup) organised for them, this again will be just for all those that entered and the winners honoured in an event at the end of 2024.
We hope we honour the two great Newry Pool Legends!