Wexford snooker star Rodney Goggins has seen the highs and lows of the world of the green baize.
Padraig Byrne met up with the former World Under-21 champion to talk about life in the game, his hopes for the future, and the dream of making the 147.
IN ORDER to excel in any sport, commitment and dedication are serious requirements. However, in the times we live in with the focus on what haircut Man City's Mario Ballotelli will be sporting this week, the dedication and hard work put in by local sportspeople can sometimes go overlooked.
Rodney Goggins is one such case. Any day of the week he can be found down in the 147 snooker club in Wexford town perfecting his art and meticulously honing his skills. The hours that Rodney puts in at the table have paid off for him though, allowing him to play in tournaments all over the world, against heavyweights of the snooker world, and even turn professional himself for a period.
As he begins 2012 at the top of the Irish amateur rankings by a comfortable distance and having won the RIBSA Grand Prix amongst other tournaments, we caught up with him to find how he handles the pressure and just how dedicated you have to be in order to be successful in the world of snooker.
So Rodney, when did you first develop an interest in snooker?
I got a four by two Pot Black snooker table when I was six for Christmas. From there I tapped away on it. Every so often I might go to Caesar's Palace in Anne Street or to The Phoenix for a game with my father, Paddy. I played every sport going when I was younger but I really got passionate about snooker when I was about 11. I played every day on the small table at home and when I was 13 I joined the Liam Mellows snooker club in Grogan's Road and about 18 months later I started to play for the 147 club. A tough school but a good one…great days!
How much practice and dedication does it take to play at the levels you have achieved?
It takes a lot of time and dedication. It's definitely a selfish pursuit in regards of time and effort and I suppose you'd have to be a bit mad to do it! At the moment I practice for about 15 hours a week, but when I was playing professionally I could have played anything up to 30 or 40 hours a week.
Some people take the approach of locking themselves away and perfecting their game. Would you be of this school of practice or do you like to practice with people?
You have to practice a lot by yourself. A lot of it is routine and repetition, trying to perfect shots and the basics. It can be very boring. I do try to travel a lot and practice with some of the lads up the country. They do sharpen you up big-time and get you 'match fit'. I like to play lads that can keep you away from the table for two or three frames at a time. Obviously that's a big thing in snooker, waiting for your shot. It can be the undoing of some players so it's something we all have to practice.
P.J. Nolan, who is a well-renowned snooker coach, has worked with you in the past. Do you still work with P.J.? How much of a role does he play in your success?
Occasionally I get him down just to have a look at my game or if things aren't happening for me in a good sense. P.J. is a great corner man and coach to have, especially when we're abroad at competitions. He's a master at making practice interesting. I've been very fortunate with coaches. I started working with Larry Codd from Enniscorthy when I was 21. He really improved me and to be honest made me a good snooker player. It was a sad day for Wexford snooker and billiards when he died. We will never see the likes of him again.
Earlier in 2011 you won the RIBSA Grand Prix and you currently sit on top of the Irish rankings. Would you say it's been a good year for you?