David Morris was in the winner’s circle again on Thursday when he secured his second successive 5-1 victory in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers – this time over Northern Irishman Gerard Greene.
The Kilkenny cueist backed up his comprehensive win over Elliot Slessor with another confident display against Greene, a player he had already overcome in the Wuxi Classic earlier this season.
Morris was my player to look out for at the outset of the new campaign and the 24 year-old certainly isn’t letting my prediction down as he has now been triumphant in seven out of his opening ten encounters this season.
The three-time National Irish Senior champion already had a six-year tenure on the Main Tour before dropping off for one year in 2012.
He put that right by enjoying a good season on the Irish amateur circuit and then sailed through Q-School in May to return to where he obviously belongs.
An obvious player to look at who didn’t succeed straight away is Martin Gould, who was also on the circuit before returning in his mid-twenties and enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings, showing it can be done.
The fact that so many of the world’s tournament winners these days are in their thirties will also prove there is a lot of time for Morris to make his mark.
It’s exciting for Irish snooker to have a player challenging the old guard of Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien, and hopefully his continuing progress will inspire more back on the Emerald Isle.
Morris takes on the ever unpredictable Liang Wenbo of China in the penultimate qualifying round – a match that the bookmakers will go in favour of the Chinese but in reality is pretty evenly poised.
Elsewhere in round two, 50-something year-olds Steve Davis and Jimmy White continue to defy their age with their overriding passion to keep competing at the highest level.
White, 51, returned from surgery on his foot to see off Jamie O’Neill 5-3 while the ‘Nugget’, who turns 56 in a couple of weeks, edged Gary Wilson 5-4.
In a week where controversy surrounding betting accusations once again belittled the integrity of the sport, one only has to look at these two players to signify the love and dedication for the game that the majority possess.
It was a mixed day for the international players but five other Chinese competitors continued their progress along with Liang.
Liu Chuang, who will play the ‘Whirlwind’, Yu Delu, Cao Yupeng, Xiao Guodong and Tian Pengfei are all two matches away from qualifying for a home event.
Possibly the most standout scoreline of the day, though, was Mohamed Khairy’s 5-1 drubbing of Rod Lawler.
The Egyptian claimed his maiden professional victory the previous day against Passakorn Suwannawat, who may come under investigation for alleged betting abnormalities, so Khairy’s follow-up success will feel all the more sweet.
There haven’t been many centuries so far at the Doncaster Dome this week, which might suggest that several of the players are a little rusty following the break.
But it is only a matter of time before play begins to heat up again.
The draw and full list of results can be viewed by clicking here.