O'Brien wins out in duel of the Dubliners
FERGAL O'BRIEN claimed the scalp of World champion Ken Doherty to reach his first ranking event semi-final in the Regal Scottish at Aberdeen yesterday.
O'Brien beat fellow Dubliner world number three Doherty 5-4 but he did it the hard way in winning the last three frames of a quarter-final which took 221 minutes to complete.
``It was slow going, a war of attrition because of the way the balls were,'' said O'Brien, who had beaten world number five Peter Ebdon in the last sixteen.
``But to beat Ken is a great scalp for me, whether he is world champion or not. I wasn't thinking of semi-finals during the match because I was so engrossed in what was going on.
``This was a big day for Irish snooker, the interest back home has been fantastic,'' said O'Brien whose highest breaks were a 66, 54 and 53.
``Really it was a hell of a match but the rivalry is over and Ken and I will be practicing together next week.
``We are both playing in the Thailand Masters in Bangkok in a fortnight's time and often get together before a major event like that.''
O'Brien who practices at Raphaels in Lucan, persuaded the club to install a satellite dish just before the Scottish event started.
``This tournament gets blanket coverage on TV and I think I've given my friends back home their money's worth in getting this far.
``I would imagine a few more of them will also be coming over to watch the semi-final and hopefully the final, including my wife Jean.''
Doherty whose highest break was only a 44 said: ``The way the game went didn't suit me. There were scrappy frames and it was impossible to get any rhythm, no one could have done.
``Fergal dug in and came back well to win the last three frames. He will have to play better to go all the way but I would have done as well. However he is playing steady and has every chance.
``But really it was a terrible match which lasted an awful long time.''
The crucial frame as far as Doherty was concerned was the seventh after O'Brien had made a break of 66. There were still enough points on the table for the world champion to win the match 5-2 but when he had made 29 he missed the last but one red.
``It was too straight and I had to hit it hard, that's why I missed it,'' said Doherty.
O'Brien agreed: ``It was the red I knew Ken would find difficult to pot from the moment he started the break. It was always a possibility that he would break down on it.''
O'Brien went back to the table and cleared up with a break of 34 to reduce Doherty's lead to 4-3.
The eighth frame produced a late break of 44 from O'Brien and in the decider he kicked off with a 54 which meant Doherty needed snookers if he was to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. He made a brave attempt to do so but it was too much for him.
O'Brien today faces the winner of the quarter-final between John Higgins and Euan Henderson.
DEBUT TO FORGET
Switched-on Stephen Lee made it a television debut to forget for surprise quarter-finalist Chris Scanlon yesterday.
World number 16 Lee raced to a 5-0 whitewash of his London rival in just 84 minutes to reach the semi-final.
Unknown Scanlon had won his previous two games by the same margin but as Lee admitted: ``I don't think I would have beaten Chris by that score on one of the outside tables.
``Chris couldn't really settle down probably because it was his first time before the cameras.