Joe Swail comeback
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On This Day in Crucible History: April 24 – Joe Swail’s Comeback

During this year’s World Snooker Championship, we’ll be recalling some of the most memorable moments that took place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Joe Swail comeback
Swail’s luck ran out when he lost 13-12 in a controversial Last 16 tie with Liang Wenbo in 2008. Photo credit: Monique Limbos.

There haven’t been many more popular runs in the World Championship than those of Joe Swail in successive seasons in 2000 and 2001.

Both years saw the “Outlaw” fight back from seemingly impossible positions in the second round en route to consecutive appearances in the semi-finals – where the Northern Irishman got to experience the magnificence of the single table set-up inside the Crucible.

Swail had never won a ranking title and had only once briefly featured inside the top 16 in the world rankings before he qualified for the 2000 edition of the World Championship as the world number 28.

After beating Paul Hunter in the first round, Swail took on former champion John Parrott in the last 16 but the signs didn’t look good as he fell 8-3 behind during the second session.

Swail, with a doggedness that would become his trademark, fought back to trail by only 9-7 heading into the third and final session – on April 24th.

Parrott appeared to reassert his dominance on the fixture when he won three out of the first four frames to move to within the brink of victory at 12-8 in front.

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Yet, Swail returned from the final mid-session interval a rejuvenated force and proceeded to claim the next five frames on the spin for an incredible success.

Twelve months on and history practically repeated itself as the endearing Belfast potter retrieved an 11-7 deficit to pip then defending world champion Mark Williams in another decider.

Swail lost both of his semi-final clashes to Matthew Stevens and Ronnie O’Sullivan but he wrote himself into Crucible folklore during those early years of the new millennium.

With a first round defeat in qualifying for the 2019 edition of the World Championship, Swail dropped off the Main Tour and his professional career could sadly be at an end.

This article has been updated and was originally published on April 24th, 2018.

Swail’s 141 break in the 2000 World Championship



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Northern Ireland Open – won by Mark Allen.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. John Higgins
7. Shaun Murphy
8. Stephen Maguire
9. Mark Allen
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Williams
12. Stuart Bingham
13. Yan Bingtao
14. Barry Hawkins
15. Jack Lisowski
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy