World Ranking: 1
Order of Merit: 3
|2022/23 SMPT season record||W||D||L|
Mark started off this season by captaining the Irish team to World Cup glory, once again, with a 5-1 victory over England back in August. This was Mark’s 3rd World Cup title and 11th SMPT title overall.
The following day, saw Mark attempt to defend his UK Open title, won three years previously. Mark obtained the perfect five wins from five matches in group 26, including a close 10-9 win over England’s Neil Davidson. In the Cup knockout, two further wins saw him face up to close friend and team mate Pauline Beattie in the last 16. Mark held the advantage of two wins to one against Pauline in previous meetings, but hence, it wasn’t to be as Pauline prevailed this time, winning 8-7 and denying Mark back to back UK Open titles.
In September’s Irish Open, Mark, once again, secured a 100% record in group 32, including an impressive 18-1 victory over England’s Peter Hore. He would face young Swedish star, Jonas Hager in the last 64 of the cup knockout. In their second head to head meeting, it was Jonas prevailing this time and exacted revenge for his UK Open final defeat from 3 years ago.
In October’s Norwegian Open, as expected, Mark cruised through group 10 with five wins and then beat Ireland’s Colin Deering and Joakim Jensen of Norway in the Last 32 & 16 of the cup knockout respectively. In the Quarter Finals, It was to be an 8th meeting and repeat of this event’s 2016 Final, against former World number one, Jonathan Payne from Belgium. A great match, with some high class bowling saw Jonathan take this match 13-7 on his preferred hard floor venue.
Mark tasted his first group match defeat of the season at the British Open in York, with a narrow 10-9 loss to World No18, Mitchell Young of England. Despite this, he secured the remaining 4 wins that made sure of progression to another cup run. This was halted abruptly though, with defeat to another one of our PPOTS nominees, Ian Hobson. With Gary McNabb’s win in this event, Mark dropped one place to number two in the rankings.
Mark was in sublime form at our next event, the English Masters and once again, with five wins secured in group 5, he set about the challenge of making a first final at this event. With wins over Rory Gittoes & Ils Belmans secured, an impressive 14-4 victory over compatriot, Nathan Haire followed in the last 16. Mark squeezed home 11-10 against former SMPT Champion Stephen Proctor in the Quarter Finals, before dispatching the returning Dominic Reed in the Semis. Mark would continue this great form in the match against Lawrence Moffat, who was playing in his second successive English Masters Final. This included an extraordinary end in which 6 touchers ended up in the ditch with the jack. Mark triumphed 11-4 and gained his 12th SMPT title and a deserved return to the World Number 1 spot.
April arrived, and with it, a great run in the Belfast Open Pairs alongside Eddie Crawford. They eventually succumbed to eventual winners Gary McNabb & Rachel McDonnell in the semi-final, 8-0.
Mark was drawn into a tough group 18 at the season ending World Masters. World Number two, Peter Roberts and Stephen Proctor, who he had already beaten in Chelmsford, would make cup qualification difficult. And so it was to be. Defeat to Peter 10-4 and a cracking match against Stephen which saw the latter play a phenomenal bowl, denied Mark a place in the cup knockout for only the second time in his 40 plus singles events he’s participated in. That’s some record! As it was, Mark reached the last 16 of the Plate competition before losing out to James Rutledge 10-3.
Yet again, Mark produced some fine performances this season, which sees another top 3 appearance in the Order of Merit and retention of his No1 ranking status.
The Short Mat Players Tour’s (SMPT) selection of short-listed players is final. Voting is open to all players who have a SMPT Player Profile on our website.
Players who have previously played in a SMPT event but do not have a Player Profile can register for one by emailing email@example.com – any player wanting a profile should send their email from the email address that is to be used for their profile, confirming the name of the last SMPT event they entered. Once a Player Profile has been set up, the player is eligible to vote.
Players may vote only once, through one registered profile under their name. Simply login to your Player Profile and register your top three choices in order of preference.
All votes must be received by the SMPT in the required format before 8pm on Sunday 2nd July 2023. The winner will be announced on our website on Tuesday 4th July 2023