Irish ace Ken Doherty goes into next week’s Dafabet Players Tour Championship Grand Finals with refreshed confidence after a recent return to form.
Dublin’s Doherty is among a star-studded 32-man line up for the event at the Bailey Allen Hall at the National University of Ireland in Galway, which runs from March 12 to 17. The likes of John Higgins, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen will also be chasing the £100,000 first prize.
Doherty reached the quarter-finals of the recent Welsh Open, beating Higgins on the way, and the semi-finals of the Scottish Open PTC event last December.
“I took some good scalps at the Welsh and that gave me a boost, to know that I can still beat the top players at the main venues,” said the 43-year-old, who won the World Championship in 1997. “Maybe I can’t pot balls and make big breaks in the way I used to, but I’ve still got the tactical side of the game. You never lose that and if you use it to your advantage it elongates your playing career – as Steve Davis has proved.
“Qualifying for the PTC finals was my main target for the season, alongside getting to the Crucible. I missed out on Galway last season and I was gutted. It’s going to be a really special event and it will be fantastic to play in front of my home crowd. Galway is a wonderful home for the event and I’m sure we will get great crowds because the people in Ireland love snooker. It will be a superb atmosphere especially as it’s St Patricks weekend.”
Doherty is building a burgeoning career in the media but is determined to emphasise that his career on the green baize still takes priority.
“I’m still a player first and foremost,” he insists. “People come up to me and ask me if I’m still playing, because they’ve seen me on TV as a pundit. It drives me mad and I have to tell them through gritted teeth not to forget me as a snooker player. I might not be on TV in the big tournaments as much as I used to be but I’m doing ok. I’m as passionate about the game as I have ever been.”
Doherty plays his opening match in Galway on Wednesday March 13 against Kurt Maflin. In the same evening session, starting at 7.30pm, potting sensation Judd Trump faces Alfie Burden.
TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW with all-day tickets starting at just 15 Euros…incredible value! For details seewww.worldsnooker.com/tickets