On this day in snooker, Alex Higgins beat Stephen Hendry 9-8 to capture his last professional title.
Goffs in County Kildare is widely regarded as being among the very best snooker venues in the sport.
The enclosed cauldron produced a brilliant atmosphere on a normal night, but consider the frenzied buzz inside the arena when Alex Higgins was involved.
On April 2nd in 1989, the roof nearly came off as the Belfast potter captured the Irish Masters in front of an elated legion of fans.
He couldn’t have chosen a much more fitting place to do it in, and a better opponent to beat in the final.
Steve Davis may have been Higgins’ biggest rival, but getting one over on a young Stephen Hendry on such a notable occasion would have certainly been a thrill he enjoyed.
Having reached the semi-final or better in all but two of his 15 appearances up until then, Higgins only had one Irish Masters trophy to his name.
En route to the title decider in 1989, the two-time world champion edged Cliff Thorburn in a first-round decider before ousting Neal Foulds and John Parrott.
Hendry, still just 20 but already a Masters winner, would have begun the final battle as the favourite for glory.
At 5-1 in front the Scot appeared to be coasting, but Higgins forced his way back into contention with four frames on the bounce to restore parity and then won the next as well to lead for the first time.
The momentum interchanged again before the final frame shoot out, in which Hendry had the opening chance but could only muster a break of 12.
When Higgins got his chance he didn’t buckle under the immense pressure, and willed on by the partisan crowd he conjured a gutsy title-clinching break of 62.
Mobbed by his supporters immediately after as he returned to his seat, Higgins must have felt on top of the world once again after a decade in which he endured immense highs and lows – both on and off the baize.
Having just turned 40 and with it increasingly becoming a young player’s game, it proved to be the last hurrah for the Hurricane.
Higgins reached the final of the British Open a year later, but things soon turned sour when an altercation with an official at the 1990 World Championship led to a lengthy ban.
There was to be no more glory upon his return, but on that particular night in 1989 it all came together one more time for Alex Higgins and his adoring fans.
Featured image credit: Wikipedia Commons
This win really impresses me as by this point the standard was beginning to move on from Higgins’ pomp. Hendry was already a regular winner and taking breakbuilding to new levels. He won bigger titles, but this was arguably his finest triumph when you consider the timing and the calibre of player he defeated.
I should add I’m not saying it’s more special than his two World titles but that the actual victory stands out more as Hendry would be the best player he ever faced.