Dene O'Kane
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Tributes pour in following tragic death of Dene O’Kane

Former snooker ranking event finalist Dene O’Kane has died following a tragic accident at his home, the New Zealand Herald has reported.

It is understood that 61 year-old O’Kane suffered a fall at his home on Waiheke Island before being taken to hospital, where he sadly died on Tuesday.

O’Kane reached as high as number 18 in the world rankings during his career as a professional snooker player on the main tour.

He won the 1980 New Zealand Amateur Championship and a year later was a runner-up to Dean Reynolds in Junior Pot Black.

O’Kane later turned pro in 1984 – a status he held for the best part of two decades.

He qualified to compete at the Crucible Theatre six times, memorably reaching the last eight of the World Snooker Championship in both 1987 and 1992.

In 1989, he missed out on a maiden ranking title by a single frame as he was pipped to glory by Mike Hallett in a nail-biting clash to determine the Hong Kong Open champion.

In the same year, O’Kane was also a member of the Rest of the World team that finished as runner-up to England at the World Cup.

After his retirement from snooker, he began working in real estate, although he competed at the 2019 World Seniors Snooker Championship.

With the sad news starting to spread on Wednesday morning, people from the world of snooker have begun to offer their condolences and tributes.

“I’m waking up to the awfully sad news of the passing of Dene O’Kane,” Neal Foulds wrote on social media platform X.

“One of the good guys. When he came over from New Zealand in 1980 for Junior Pot Black, he was immediately different from the rest of us in a good way.”

“Always had a touch of class about him. Rest in peace Deno.”

Neil Robertson, from neighbouring Australia who has since become the most successful player from outside the UK in the game’s history, also paid tribute.

“Very sad to hear this news,” the Melbourne man wrote. “Dene was really supportive of me back home.”

“He always gave me his time and tried to pass on as much advice as possible as we came from the same part of the world.

“Very classy player and man. Rest in peace.”

Former Shoot Out champion Michael Holt said: “Some really sad news today that Dene O’Kane has passed away.”

“I always remember Dene. When I first turned pro and the first season I played him, he said some really kind words about me and to me.

“He encouraged me, and as a young player Dene was obviously someone I looked up to. I watched him as I grew up.

“An absolute gentleman. It’s really, really sad, and my thoughts are with his family.”

Featured photo credit: WSS

4 Comments

  1. Jay Brannon

    A sad loss. 61 is no age. It was nice to hear that he once took a stance against France’s nuclear activity in Bangkok.

    Dene O’Kane Factfile:

    He’s only one of three players from Oceania to reach the last eight at the Crucible.

    Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry beat him in his two Crucible quarter-finals.

    In addition to reaching the Hong Kong Open Final, he reached one other ranking semi-final. The Kiwi made the semis in Hong Kong when it was a non ranking event.

    He made 40 career centuries. His highest tournament break was 140. 14 of his century breaks were made in the World Championship.

    He made six Crucible appearances but never played there in successive years.

    His best showing in the UK Championship was a run to the last 16 in 1992.

  2. My deepest condolences to Dene’s family. I have fond memories of Dene in his younger days, when he was starting to make a name for himself. My partner at the time, Peter, was Dene’s manager in the early years in the UK. We spent many nights driving Dene to club tournaments and guest appearances. Watching him play at the Crucible against the heavyweights of Snooker was the icing on the cake for us. Those days were exciting and fun, and at the same time nerve-racking for all of us. Dene was a perfectionist and always a class act, with a sweet sense of humour. A gentle and kind soul – always happy to give up his time for others – he would spend hours trying to teach me to use a cue to hit a ball, while he was supposed to be practicing! I’m just sorry that we never got to catch up in person over the last years. A huge loss for NZ.

  3. JENNIE GAMMON

    Such a shock to hear the sad news of the passing of Dene O’Kane, what a gentleman, I was lucky enough to meet him at Preston Guild Hall and he obliged in having his photograph taken with me and giving me his autograph, RIP Dene you will be sadly missed.

  4. John Hewitt

    So sad news
    He was a very good player remember him coming to Sheffield my home city on meny acations
    Back in the eighties.
    Condolences to family and friends at this sad time R.I.P. Dene . O’Kane 🤩😔

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