This morning saw the start of the PTC Snooker Championships Grand Final take place in Galway. I’m covering the competition for FlirtFM along with Dave Finn and Aisling Crowe.
Covering the competition for an actual radio station instead of just going to it as a spectator has its perks, not least of which, I have a press pass for the competition allowing me to use the media room, attend press conferences and most importantly, all the matches.
Most of our coverage can be found at http://twitter.com/flirtfmsport where we’re live tweeting all the matches, and reports are broadcast on Flirt FM throughout the day. I covered a few matches today, and I’ve decided to post my reports on them while they’re still fresh in my head.
Mark Davis vs. Tom Ford
This will officially go down as the first professional snooker match I’ve seen in the flesh. I quite enjoyed it it has to be said, though I would have loved to have had the dulcet tones of Steve Davis and Ken Doherty in my ear, BBC aren’t covering this event unfortunately, and Eurosport aren’t doing earpieces for the crowd for commentary.
Nonetheless, it was an interesting game. Davis raced ahead to a 2-0 lead and looked quite confident, but let Ford back into the game slightly during a scrappy 3rd frame. 2-1. After that though, Ford never really looked into the game at all, and Davis took a couple of very sweet long pots along with a break of 72 to take it to 3-1. It was a messy next frame with a good bit of safety play but Davis wrapped it up in the end.
At the press conference afterwards, Davis mentioned that he really liked coming to Ireland and would love to play more tournaments here. He also set out his stall by telling us he’s here to win, and will be very much going for it this week.
Xiao Guadong vs. Dominic Dale
This match I was very much looking forward to. I interviewed Dominic over the phone last week and found him to a really nice guy to talk to, I asked him a few questions to get a 5 minute interview and afterwards we just chatted about snooker for a while. Naturally I wanted him to do well.
Standing in his way was up and coming Chinese player Xiao Guadong. The pair have met once before with Dale winning and when Xiao arrived it was clear that there was something wrong with his left (bridging) hand, as it was heavily bandaged. All signs looked to be pointing towards a Dale victory.
However, someone didn’t send Xiao the script and from early on the Chinese player showed that he is capable of potting balls from anywhere on the table, sinking some delicious long shots. He started nicely with a break of 71 to take the first frame but showed maybe a small bit of inexperience by missing a straightforward black in the second, allowing Dale to level the match.
The momentum then shifted back to Xiao, he took the third 58-15 and then put in a very impressive 80 to make it 3-1. Dale still had some fight left and an excellently put together 72 left the game 3-2 giving Dale fans (like myself) some hope. It wasn’t to be though, Dale allowed Xiao an easy opener and he didn’t need to be asked twice, wrapping up the 6th frame and the match. 4-2 the final score.
At the press conference, Xiao explained (in somewhat shaky English) how he broke his hand, seemingly while sleeping. He was advised to take 3 months off, but disobeyed doctors orders to come and play the tournament. Seems to be have been worth it though, as he has a match against Judd Trump to look forward to on Friday.
Ricky Walden vs. Matthew Stephens
My report on this one will be short, because the match itself was short, a mere 45 minutes, Matthew Stevens never got a handle on the game and Ricky Walden looked very impressive, clocking up breaks of 66, 130, 95 and 131 to hammer Stevens 4-0.
After the game Walden was in a confident mood, saying that his break building is his strong point, and if his safety play goes right, he can beat anyone. Rightly so in my opinion, a very impressive performance and definitely someone to watch. He faces O’Sullivan in the next round and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he was to send the Rocket home.
Joe Perry vs. Fergal O’Brien
This game turned out to be the exact opposite to the one preceding it in terms of length, frames lasting on average 30 min+. It was a tough, grinding sort of a game with plenty of mistakes from both players. Unfortunately for the large expectant crowd hoping for an Irish win it was not to be, with Gentleman Joe taking the game 4-0. It could hardly be called convincing however, and if O’Brien had taken even a fraction of the chances presented to him it may have been a different story. To the disappointment of the crowd, O’Brien couldn’t buy a long pot and while he was in the balls repeatedly played out of position, or worse, rattled shots off the jaws to hand frames to Perry.
The real crushing blow came in the 3rd frame where O’Brien was well ahead, in fact, Perry required snookers. Perry played a few excellent safety shots and got right back into it with snookers on the blue. Any ball would have secured O’Brien the frame but he was again let down by his long potting and Perry took the frame on the black ball winning by the narrowest of margins.
Losing a frame in that fashion was never going to do O’Briens confidence any good and although he rallied well in the 4th frame with a 42, a 74 from Perry secured the win. Both players will be disappointed with their performance and Perry will know he’ll have to improve if he’s to challenge Graham Dott on Thursday evening.
So that’s it, those are the games I covered today, I wasn’t around for Lisowskis exciting 4-3 match or Stephen Lee’s convincing victory over Martin Gould, but the World Snooker site has reports on those if you’re curious, done up by the excellent Ivan from World Snooker.
I’ll be at some of the games for the rest of the week, and you can follow our coverage at http://twitter.com/flirtfmsport and likely here too in the evenings after the matches.