Eight became four yesterday in the iconic circle in Goffs and one of them will walk away with the Alex Higgins trophy tonight
Before each session there is a meet and greet for the VIPs and, for all, the opportunity to visit the cue zone – a meet PJ Nolan, the excellent Irish coach – as well as the QBolt stand, and maybe, take the challenge on their great practice bench. Last time I heard, the Seniors World Champion, Aaron Canavan was holding the record with 50 consecutive pots without missing.
Remember that the event is shown on Free Sports, the final will be live on Irish television, and for those outside the UK and Ireland there is streaming on Facebook. The event is also streamed in China.
Now here is what happened yesterday…
Rodney Goggins 3-1 Ken Doherty
Ken Doherty was the pre-tournament favourite, but Rodney Goggins had other ideas. Rodney is not spectacular, he’s not the fastest player either. But he is solid, both technically and mentally, he’s determined and, he is extremely reliable under pressure. Ken was poor yesterday, far from the form he had shown in York when he pushed Ronnie to a decider. Every player has good and less good days. But Rodney took full advantage and put Ken under pressure, which magnified every mistake. From 2-0 down Ken did well to get oneframe back, and the next was hard-fought but in the end the better man won deservedly.
Joe Johnson 3-1 Dennis Taylor
To be honest, this whole affair was a struggle. Both players were poor. Joe Johnson, the winner was extremely disappointed with his own performance, embarrassed even, and not one bit happy despite the win.
Patrick Wallace 3-0 Aaron Canavan
This was a rematch of the Seniors World Championship last final. That time Aaron had beaten Patrick on the re-spotted black to walk away with the trophy. This time it was Patrick who came out the winner. He was the better player. It was extremely tense and both players made some uncharacteristic mistakes, but it was a good match, played in great spirit. The initial handshake was warm – two good mates were about to set their friendship aside and battle with all they have – and the embrace in the end was anything but fake, for all his disappointment, Aaron was happy for Patrick and wishing him the best. Aaron has never been a pro, I’m not sure that he ever met Patrick before competing on the seniors tour, but this is one of the most beautiful aspects of this tour: they battle to the last ball at the table, but away from it there is a real camaraderie between guys who love their sport to bits.
Jimmy White 3-0 Willie Thorne
During the mid-session between the matches, a feature was shown about Willie Thorne; a great and very honest interview. Willie has gone through very difficult times away from snooker and he knew that his game was in shambles but he has been feeling better, and practicing hard in preparation for this event. He said that, amongst the balls, he’s playing decently again, but his long potting remains a weakness. That’s exactly how it proved to be at the table during this match. Jimmy never looked in danger to lose, but Willie at least did himself justice and everyone was happy for him. Sincerely. Oh, and a devilish snooker led by Jimmy in frame one gave Willie a headache and had Michaela working really hard!
This afternoon Rodney Goggins will play Joe Johnson and Patrick Wallace will play Jimmy White. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had an all Irish Final (Ireland v Northern Ireland to be precise) between the two “qualifiers”, Rodney and Patrick.