The Irishman was attempting to qualify for the World Snooker Championship for the first time in six years.
Ken Doherty has lost his professional Main Tour card after a 6-3 defeat to Mark King in the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield on Sunday.
The Dubliner needed a victory in order to maintain his hopes of both reaching the Crucible and breaking back inside the top 64 in the official world rankings list.
Failure to do so means that the 1997 world champion will definitely finish the 2019/20 campaign outside the cut-off point for tour survival.
Doherty has been plying his trade on the pro circuit since 1990 and reached a career-high of number two in the world rankings.
The 50 year-old’s crowning achievement came when he overcame then dominant force Stephen Hendry to lift the coveted world title – becoming only the second player from outside the UK to land the sport’s blue-riband prize in the Crucible era.
Doherty triumphed six times in ranking events and had near misses in numerous other major finals, including two other World Championship title deciders, three UK Championship finals, and two Masters finals.
In 2017, after the “Darlin’ of Dublin” dropped off the Main Tour in similar fashion, he was immediately awarded an invitational card akin to how legend Jimmy White has survived for the last number of years.
That option seems likely to materialise again, although no announcement has yet been made from the World Snooker Tour.
Whether Doherty would accept it this time around or opt for retirement is also up in the air.
For now, though, his loss to King in the penultimate round of the world preliminaries means that his long-held professional status is lost.
In 2020 at the Crucible, Doherty will instead be working with the BBC in his more common role these days as a commentator at the Triple Crown events.
What the future holds for one of Ireland’s greatest sporting heroes on the green baize remains to be seen.
Featured photo credit: WST