Over the course of this season, Jonathan “Sniper” Williams will be conducting a series of interviews with players from the Irish snooker scene.
Many thanks to Jonathan for his contributions to SnookerHQ and to all the players who have agreed to take part in this new feature. We hope you enjoy it.
Sniper: What are your goals for this season?
O’Donoghue: “If I emulate last season it’d be unbelievable as I played in five finals, I won three of them, including the National Championship. To at least win one ranking event and to qualify for the international events by finishing in the top five or six in the rankings would make for a happy season every season for me.”
“Since I’ve started winning ranking tournaments I think I’ve only once not won a ranking event in a season, which happened around five years ago. So win one and to be in the top five is the goal.”
Sniper: Tell us about your most successful moment in snooker.
O’Donoghue: “I suppose winning the Irish Championships is the most important thing. I’ve won the European team title, I’ve been in the semis of a World Amateur Championship, I played in five European finals including the individual final, but I was beaten in that.”
“I take great pride in some of the underage wins. I won the under-14 national title when I was 12. I never dropped a frame that day and I made a 50-plus break in each frame I played in. It was best of five on the day and I won five matches 3-0, making fifteen 50-plus breaks on the day. I’m a better player now but I don’t think I’ve done anything as good since that. I thought it was unbelievable at the time.”
Sniper: What would you consider your worst defeat in snooker?
O’Donoghue: “I’ve never really lost sleep over a defeat. If I lose, I lose – I block it out and it’s gone. But recently, the last European team final in 2016 with Ryan Cronin hurt. We played the quarters and semis one after the other and it was nine and a half hours of snooker, but only got a five-minute break before the final because it was on live telly for a national Lithuanian channel.”
“I won the first frame in around three minutes but an hour later we were at 2-2 and the two of us were just dead. The Maltese team had a three-hour break and it was tough, that was a sickener.
“That was my fifth European final and I had won one previously. In 2009, I lost the deciding frame of the European Team Championship final against Lee Walker on the final pink.
“It hurts more letting the lads down if you lose I suppose. But I try not to remember the wins or the losses, it’s just an even keel. At the end, I’ll count up what I’ve achieved and I’ll be happy with it. I hate losing but I go to the table giving it absolutely everything and if a fella beats me, that’s fine.”
Sniper: Who is your most difficult opponent?
O’Donoghue: “There’s only one player that I can think of who has a better record against me than I have against them, and that’s Davy Morris. He beat me in two national finals in a row, both 8-2.”
Sniper: Favourite professional player, and why?
O’Donoghue: “I like looking at Ronnie, but I associate myself with Neil Robertson’s cue action – I think I cue similar to him. And I’d say Selby, just for the way he likes to win and he doesn’t care how he gets there.”
Sniper: Tell us one snooker-related pet peeve.
O’Donoghue: “Loads. Loads. Picking the balls up without holding the cue in your hand, leaving the chalk on the table, turning the chalk upside down and dirtying the side of the table.”
“Players standing at the black spot when you’re potting into the black spot – that’s what (Vincent) Muldoon used to love doing. Talking! Chalking the cue in your ear.
“All of them, I hate them all. I think it’s totally disrespectful and I wouldn’t do that to anybody.”
Sniper: What’s your opinion on the current state of Irish snooker?
O’Donoghue: “Oh, I dunno. There are good players there. There are 61 players entering the Barracks Classic and, if you took away the over 40s events that weren’t there before when I started playing, there’d be close to 100 players entering.”
“The masters tournaments only started around 15 years ago. It definitely has something to do with the low entries but I can understand those lads wanting to play in their own category. Lads want to have a chance in an event.
“The thing is, everybody is getting older and we’re not filling in the numbers. All the lads that are there now are still playing snooker and nobody is coming in to take their positions.
“The junior snooker, I don’t know. When was the last time Ireland won a junior Home Internationals? Second has been our best result in 22 years. Why is that, and how come we’ve only won one ever?”
Sniper: Do you think the recession had anything to do with falling numbers?
O’Donoghue: “Yeah, it definitely contributed to clubs going out, and when they fell away that meant people weren’t coming in to enjoy the game. Some have probably profited a little but there’s only so much they can do, the clubs are small – there are only two or three tables.”
“You can’t get big numbers playing because you’ll have people waiting for two or three hours before they get a game.”
Sniper: Is there one important change that should be made to the current system?
O’Donoghue: “I think it needs more than one change, but I don’t know what they are. If I knew what they were I’d go on the committee and help.”
Sniper: Do you have any bogey player?
O’Donoghue: “Jonathan Williams.”
Sniper: What would be your favourite tournament or venue?
O’Donoghue: “Killarney’s one of the best venues I’ve played in for the Club Championships, it has to be. Malta has a great venue too, I played a final over there but I suppose Killarney is the best.”
Keep an eye out for the next “Sniper Shot” featuring another three-time national champion – TJ Dowling.