Ken Doherty saw off stern opposition to reach the last 16 of the third Players Tour Championship event of the season at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.
And Fergal O’Brien added gloss to another rare positive day for Irish snooker by winning 12 of his 14 frames to join his compatriot in round four.
The Irishman’s performances went from strength to strength as he dispelled of Mark Allen and Ding Junhui following an early round 4-0 whitewash over young amateur Sanderson Lam.
A match-up between the Dubliner and Northern Irishman Allen had been much-anticipated when the it materialised the pair could square off against each other in the second round.
Speculation has it that the duo have had altercations in the past, stemming from Allen’s surprise first round defeat of Doherty at the 2007 World Championship in Sheffield.
However, smiles were exchanged during their pre-match handshake and any animosity between them appeared non-existent.
That, though, was not to deny a firey contest as Irishmen went toe-to-toe throughout an enthralling affair that ebbed one way and then the next.
Having lost the opener, two breaks above 50 gave Doherty a 2-1 advantage only for his opponent to respond in kind with a century to regain the lead at 3-2.
It was here where it looked like World Open champion Allen was going to seal the victory but an unexpected missed green while using the rest on a match-winning clearance offered Doherty a reprieve – which he graciously accepted.
Doherty’s displays improved again in the last 32 as he outwitted China’s Ding Junhui 4-2 in confident manner to book round four clash with O’Brien.
The former Masters finalist schooled Andrew Pagett 4-0 – only hours after the Welshman had tweeted that he would prefer to be down the pub than play the “slowest player in snooker.”
Already boasting a ton from that match, O’Brien added another brace in his second whitewash of the day – this time over Gary Wilson.
But he saved his typical gritty performance for last with a determined, battling 4-2 triumph over Michael Holt to book a meeting with Doherty and ensure that there would be at least one Irishman in the last eight.
It continues a remarkable campaign so far for the pair after both qualifying for three of the opening four main ranking events, coupled with a run to the quarter-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic for Doherty a fortnight ago.
As an action-packed Saturday drew to a close, Rod Lawler extended his own good run of form lately with a 4-2 victory over Simon Bedford – who had earlier knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan on his return to the sport following a four-month hiatus – while Dominic Dale recorded a similar scoreline over world no.1 Mark Selby shortly after midnight.
Martin Gould fought back to edge Rory McLeod 4-3 and will meet Stephen Lee for a quarter-final berth after his fellow Englishman jumped at the opportunity to have an early night – dominating all of his encounters to the detriment of only two frames.
Comeback of the day came from Stuart Bingham, who had already dismantled of Aussie Neil Robertson and came from 3-0 behind to pip Alan McManus – again post-midnight.
Last men standing were Steve Davis and Ben Woollaston with the latter enjoying a 3-0 advantage at the time of writing and seemingly on his way to an appearance on Sunday against Welshman Dale.
The draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.