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Morris and O’Brien Advance in York

David Morris moved into the last 32 of the UK Championship for the first time after hammering former champion Peter Ebdon 6-1 in York on Saturday.

The encounter didn’t boast many big breaks – the only half century came in the opening frame with a 72 from Morris – but the Irishman had more than enough to overcome the 2002 world champion.

It’s yet another excellent victory for Morris in a season where he is increasingly improving that he can handle it in the pro ranks.

Having lost his tour card in 2012, Morris licked his wounds on the Irish amateur circuit before regaining his professional status at Q-School in May.

In the first event of the season, Morris embarked on a run to the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his career at the Wuxi Classic.

Having performed steadily since, the Kilkenny cueist is now showing wider audiences his doubtless capability.

And who knows how far he can go at the Barbican this week?

The draw has somewhat opened up for the 25 year-old after Marco Fu was surprisingly beaten by amateur Mitchell Travis on Friday.

Travis or Norway’s Kurt Maflin will be Morris’ next challenge in the third round and after successes over Jamie Cope and now Ebdon he must be oozing confidence.

It was a good day all-round for the Irish contingent as veteran Fergal O’Brien won the last five frames of his contest with Mark King to prevail 6-3 having been two behind at the interval.

The Dubliner had King in all sorts of trouble in the sixth frame, a snooker that resulted in his English opponent giving away 60 penalty points in fouls.

A 102 brought the 41 year-old to within one of triumph and he took the scrappy ninth to seal his place in the next round, where he’ll play either Ding Junhui or James Wattana.

A player like Morris performing well on his return to the professional scene is Gary Wilson, and the Englishman also advanced to the third round after a 6-3 win over Australia’s Vinnie Calabrese.

It sets up a clash with World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins, who came through a tough test with China’s Zhang Anda 6-3.

It wasn’t a bad day for the Chinese, though, as Xiao Guodong and Liang Wenbo both progressed unscathed.

Shanghai Masters finalist Xiao knocked in four half-centuries en route to a 6-2 success over Jamie O’Neill while Liang Wenbo took the last four frames in a 6-3 defeat of Michael Leslie – the Scotsman, though, did compile the highest break of the tournament so far with a 139.

Former champion Shaun Murphy, who has endured a difficult campaign so far, was in trouble early on in his encounter with Paul Davison when he went 3-0 down and looked completely out-of-sorts.

However, he isn’t a world champion for nothing and he regained his composure to collect the next six frames with breaks of 75, 78, 80 and 65.

Another ex-Crucible champ in Graeme Dott had an even harder time against Nigel Bond but eventually overcame the 48 year-old in a decider.

It was much easier for Ali Carter, who raced to a 6-0 drubbing over countryman Jimmy Robertson.

With seven victories needed to be able to capture the title next Sunday, stamina could come into play at the business end of proceedings.

Thus, Carter will be happy with his efforts so far having dropped only the solitary frame in two painless triumphs.

Carter and Dott go head-to-head for a place in the last 16, which has interesting permutations on the race to be in the top 15 in the rankings who are guaranteed entry into the upcoming prestigious Masters invitational event.

The ‘Captain’ currently holds the last qualifying spot but Dott is only one place behind him in 16th, so this promises to be a fiery contest.

Joe Perry, Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens, who all play today, also have invested interest but must go far in order to break in.

Regardless, the other two second round results on the fifth day saw Michael Holt and Marcus Campbell earn 6-4 wins over Alan McManus and Michael White respectively.

The four remaining first round matches involving the top seeds were decided as well.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson destroyed their inexperienced challengers but Ding Junhui looked anything but a player who is bidding for a fourth ranking event on the trot in his laboured 6-3 win over Antony Parsons.

Defending champion Mark Selby was given an even sterner test by 15 year-old Shane Castle, eventually prevailing 6-4.

It’ll be from here that tournament really begins to ignite.

The full draw 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.

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