Crafty Ken Through in Killarney

Ken Doherty was the star attraction on day three of the Alex Higgins International Trophy and progressed to round four after three successive deciding-frame victories.

The Irishman has been involved in some dramatic encounters down the years – World Championship finals included – but put his home fans through the mill today before ensuring they left the evening with their eyes smiling.

Doherty, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the beginning of the season, looked out of sorts early on in his match with Northern Irishman Joe Meara but powered in a 125 century break in the last to edge it 4-3.

The 42 year-old would become accustomed to that scoreline as the day went on and fought back from 3-1 behind to pip Ali Carter in the second round.

In truth, the Dubliner rode his luck in the final frame against the Englishman, wasting several chances before finally scraping through with an audacious double on the brown.

Against Rory McLeod in the third round the roles were reversed and this time Doherty had to withstand a comeback to three frames apiece.

However, he made an early break of 50 in the decider and was able to protect his lead easily for a memorable day’s work.

Doherty will face fellow veteran Alan McManus for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday after the Scotsman shocked Shaun Murphy 4-1.

18 years ago, Doherty beat McManus at the 1993 Welsh Open to claim his first ranking title and the pair remain stalwarts of the circuit to this day.

Elsewhere, Aussie Open champion Stuart Bingham was in excellent form in beating Alex Taubman, Jimmy White and Ricky Walden to reach the last 16 – scoring back-to-back centuries in his triumph over the ‘Whirlwind’.

China’s Yu Delu will be the English player’s next opponent while Barry Hawkins and world number one Mark Selby will also clash.

Finally, Top 16 members Judd Trump and Stephen Lee will meet for a last 8 spot in what is arguably the stand-out tie of the fourth round.

Trump played superbly to whitewash Marco Fu 4-0 while Lee rounded off his 4-2 victory over impressive teenager Luca Brecel with a polished century break.

Attendances once again were not spectacular but a stark improvement on yesterday’s crowds.

Yet, there has been quite a lot of disrespect shown to the players with distracting movement mid-shot as the level of stewardship has been non-existent.

Nevertheless, the fact that there are three Irishmen – two from the north and one from the south – in action tomorrow, as well as the likes of Trump, Selby and Higgins, should ensure a sizeable turnout.

Indeed, for a tournament named in honour of the legend Alex Higgins it is appropriate that there is such a strong Irish contingent in the line-up – and perhaps that the event hasn’t run all that smoothly relates to the man as well.

Who knows, maybe Allen or Greene will meet Doherty in the final tomorrow.

The full draw and results for PTC 8 can be viewed by clicking here.

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