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Preview: Seniors Irish Masters

The second event of the new World Seniors Tour takes place this weekend with the Seniors Irish Masters in County Kildare.

Doherty will have a lot of the local support on his side. Photo credit: Monique Limbos

The iconic Goffs, which hosted the Irish Masters on the Main Tour from 1978 until 2000 and is widely regarded as one of the best ever snooker venues, is where the eight contenders will battle it out for glory.

Jimmy White won the inaugural World Seniors Tour tournament at the UK Seniors Championship in October when he beat Ireland’s Ken Doherty in the final in Surrey.

The pair naturally represents the two favourites again to challenge for the title, understandably so considering they are the only professionals in the draw.

The World Seniors Tour is generally open only to amateurs but White and Doherty have gained access this season on the basis of a technicality – namely them only competing on the pro circuit through invitational tour cards.

That reasoning probably won’t stand up for long but, for its debut season as it gets properly up and running, I think people are mostly fine with including the two legends for now.

It’ll certainly go down well at Goffs with Doherty and White two of the most popular cueists ever to play on the Emerald Isle.

The “Whirlwind”, twice a winner of the Irish Masters in the 1980s, was due to face surprise qualifier Julian Logue in the quarter-finals but the latter had to withdraw due to personal reasons.

Northern Ireland’s Patrick Wallace was the willing substitute and will surely prove to be a tough obstacle for White in the first round.

Doherty faces Jonathan Bagley while veteran countryman Patsy Fagan meets John Parrott in the bottom half of the draw.

The fixture everyone is excited about, though, is the encounter between retired world champions Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor.

The duo obviously is remembered for their 1985 black ball finish at the Crucible but Davis and Taylor also clashed in the final of the 1990 Irish Masters, when the “Nugget” came out on top 9-4 to collect the fifth of his eight total titles at Goffs.

Davis, who fully retired from the professional scene in 2016, has suggested that he won’t be a regular feature in the World Seniors Tour so this could be one of the Englishman’s last opportunities to add to his glittering trophy cabinet.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played over the best of five frames before a best of seven final on Sunday, with the deciding frame of any match determined by a re-spotted black.

Unfortunately, the event isn’t televised but promoter Jason Francis will be live streaming as much as possible on his Snooker Legends Facebook Page throughout the weekend.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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.