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Fearless Fergal Falls Flat

Fergal O’Brien couldn’t inspire himself with home advantage as he went down 4-0 to Joe Perry in the first round of the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals at the Bailey Allen Hall in Galway.

From a purely selfish point of view, it may have been a better thing for the tournament as a whole if O’Brien could have found the form that brought him into the Top 16 more than a decade ago.

Crowds may or may not be affected by a home player in the event but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

However, the fact that Irish snooker is relying on a player in the twilight of his career for a return to the glory days is probably suggesting something – where is the next generation?

Anyway, a good victory for Perry in a match that perhaps hinged on the third frame when the Englishman came back from needing a snooker to pinch it on the black.

Perry was runner-up in the first and last PTC events of this season and is a player capable of being a threat to anyone in the game. He takes on Graeme Dott for a place in the quarter-finals.

Ricky Walden put in the performance of the day after another 4-0 scoreline, this time over Matthew Stevens.

In truth, the Welshman, who would have been favourite at the outset, could do absolutely nothing as Walden embarked on a rampage of big break to complete the rout – including two centuries of 131 and 130.

In-form Stephen Lee and Mark Davis produced equally fine displays over Martin Gould and Tom Ford respectively after a pair of 4-1 triumphs.

World Open finalist Lee outclassed last year’s Grand Finals runner-up Gould and will be hoping to add to his collection of quarter-final, semi-final and final spots in the last three events with a fifth ranking title to his name.

Arguably the most interesting outcome, though, was Xiao Guodong’s 4-2 victory over Wales’ Dominic Dale.

The former arrived at the venue only minutes before play was due to commence sporting, totally unrelated to his tardy time-keeping, a cast on his left arm.

Only weeks ago did the Chinese 23 year-old wake up to a broken hand, apparently having slept awkwardly the night before – or so he claims.

Doctors advised him to take three months rest from snooker but he was adamant that, with precious ranking points at stake, the tournament was not to be missed.

Earlier in the day, Jack Lisowski kicked proceedings off with a 4-3 defeat of Barry Hawkins in an entertaining but scrappy affair.

Lisowski, who has surprisingly struggled of late, could have easily won 4-0 only for needing around five chances in each of the first six frames.

Typically, he got in early in the decider and knocked in a cool 99 to progress into the last 16.

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



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.