A Holy Trinity. The father. The son. And the Holy Spirit. He can't help but take one last, lingering look at the table as he takes the 17 steps to his seat, one for every day of this incredible run to the final. It seems to him like a country's mile.
The shot he has missed to clinch the world title has left his opponent with an even easier one to close it out.
But before he sits, the faint echo of a voice. His mother. He has been chatting to her, on and off, for two days. He knows he may well not still be sitting here, well past midnight, without her. Now it is her turn to speak.
And so, he sits. And he waits. And his opponent misses. He will get another chance. His mother was right. Annie Taylor, who died seven months earlier. The Holy Spirit guiding Dennis, her son, a father, to the top of the world.
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AN unholy Trinity. Three snooker tables. Gervin's in Coalisland. The Crucible in Sheffield. The Shankill Road Leisure Centre. All green-carpeted baize looks the same, but each harbour their own unique histories.
From the end of a journey to its beginning.
Five days after combining one of sport's finest comebacks with its most stunning upset, the 1985 World Snooker champion receives a standing ovation as he steps into the heart of protestant East Belfast.
"Not bad for a wee altar boy from County Tyrone," Taylor giggles 35 years on. That same week, he'd arrived home to find hundreds of letters and postcards.
And one tooth.
Secreted within a crumpled missal from H Block, Maze Prison, sent on "behalf of all the Republican POWs."
Taylor may have been an Irishman beating an Englishman but he didn't do it for flag or country, or for anyone other than himself or his immediate family. It's just that people needed something to cling to. His win boosted morale on all sides, not one.
The briefest rainbow bright interlude bridging darkest clouds.
As he drove up the previous evening, he heard the radio reporting the killing of William Heenan, a former B Special, in his Leitrim home in Co Down.
His 12-year-old son, forgetting a phone had recently been installed in the house, ran a mile to his neighbours, screaming all the way, "They've shot my daddy!" He'd made the same journey a month earlier when his granny died. His mother had died two years previously and now he was an orphan. Another victim of the Troubles.
"We needed it back then," says Taylor, now 71 and living in Rhyl, north Wales.
"Nobody needs reminding. Sport helped to bring people together for a short while. It did so much.
"That reception in the Shankill had been organised long before I won the world title but even so I wouldn't have expected anything but that ovation.
"I remember in the 1970s, I used to bring guys up there, Cliff Thorburn, Steve, all of them. We could go to any club, catholic or protestant, the receptions were always the same.
"A few weeks later, I remember going to watch Barry McGuigan against Eusebio Pedroza at QPR, myself and Mary Peters getting a police escort going towards ringside and just marvelling at what our small country was doing, in a good way. I was thinking, this is a long way from home . . . "
It is 1958 and a door swings open as a young boy walks past the police station towards home. He can hear the hubbub, smell a whiff of smoke, see the lowly hung lamplight.
It is a place of forbidden enchantment. Gervin's Bar.
"I could see the green cloth and the balls whizzing around the place. I knew my brother had gone in there, very rarely my father. It used to open at six and I'd be let in for a half-hour. Just to watch them, initially. Sometimes, I'd hold the rest. That's how I started."
Soon, this intoxicating interest would consume his every spare minute. Annie and dad Tommy would indulge the past-time; Taylor's seven siblings were used to 'wee Dennis' disappearing for hours at a time.
Soon, he could beat all-comers at both billiards and snooker. At 14, he won the British Junior Championships. When he came home, an Irish veteran, Jackie Bates, brought him to Belfast to play another burgeoning talent.
"That was the first time I laid eyes on Alex Higgins." It wouldn't be the last.
Taylor left school early and laid pipes in Kelly's Yard; one day, there was a faulty batch and Taylor's team were blamed, then sacked.
"The boss then realised he made a mistake and sheepishly asked us to return," recalls Taylor. "But I told him where to go." Taylor himself knew where he wanted to go. He emigrated to Darwin, just outside Blackburn, to live with an auntie. "Getting sacked was the best thing that ever happened to me."
Initially, life was tough. 12-hour days, seven of them a week, in a paper mill. The better he played snooker, though, the less he worked. Soon, an office.
Then, selling TV sets; he gave one free to Higgins, a fellow émigré who, although the same age, shot to initial prominence, winning the 1972 world title.
Taylor, now married with two kids, took the plunge and turned pro a year later; losing in the first round of the world championship to Canadian Thorburn, 9-8; Higgins' quarter-final was interrupted by rain seeping through a ceiling crack.
For snooker was a sport played largely in down at heel working men's clubs or British Legion halls; there were hardly any organised events, little if no public interest, and virtually no money to be earned.
In 1974, he spent his last £200 to pay his own way to the Canadian Open. In the semi-final, he met Higgins.
"I was so on my uppers I had to stay in the promoter's house," says Taylor. "When we won our quarter-finals, I said to Alex, 'look, one of us has to get to the final so why don't we share the pot between us?'
"But he said he had to pay for his hotel and anyway his girlfriend was staying too. So I decided I'd probably have to beat him in that case."
He did so, 8-6; and even though Thorburn won the final, it was an early lesson absorbed in a dogged apprenticeship; and also an early insight to the character of the man who would later become both friend and enemy.
"It was dog eat dog. You'd send a thousand letters to working man's club at the start of the year. When you got a gig, you'd get a fee of £30. You'd play a team of seven locals, maybe give them a 200 point start and if they managed to beat you, you'd lose your fee. You wouldn't even get the petrol or a pint.
"Still, you enjoyed it. I mean you spent every penny you had as a kid playing the game and now you were getting paid to play it. I went to Australia about 16 times, we were better known out there than in the UK.
"I was away a lot but when I was home, you'd be there all day so it wasn't the worst balance. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed ourselves. We had an awful lot of fun promoting the game.
"It's probably lonelier nowadays because it's such a battle. We wanted to win but we were almost pioneers as well so there was a thrill to it. We had our moments of madness but we still had to play for supper!"
On one of his trips home, an unusual sequence of three consecutive breaks that totalled 349 alerted the makers of a new BBC programme. Pot Black would revolutionise snooker, instantly transforming the careers of its leading performers.
"Whispering Ted Lowe introduced me as the 26-year-old smiling Irishman and I think I stayed 26 for most of my career. Pot Black made it easier to get the work but the work was still hard."
Snooker's move to Sheffield in 1977 was another incipient step towards an explosion in the sport's popularity which Taylor, amongst others, would hope to profit. He was a semi-finalist - again losing to Thorburn.
In 1979, he felt it was his year; after beating six-time champion Ray Reardon and an emerging tyro called Steve Davis, he persuaded Annie to fly over for the final against unheralded, unseeded ex-postman Terry Griffiths.
"That was the one that got away," he says wryly. "It was the first time I switched from glasses to contact lenses and it felt really good."
Not good enough. A fellow player, Jack Karnhem, would eventually manufacture the familiar, over-sized spectacles which would make him famous; primarily, they made him a better player.
Davis was the dominant figure in a sport now commanding millions of TV viewers, as well as front and back pages.
But before Taylor shocked the world, his world was rocked. In 1984, aged just 62, Annie died suddenly of a heart attack while Taylor was playing in the International Tournament.
"I pulled out before my quarter-final, but my family persuaded me to play in the Grand Prix. That's when I would start just chatting away to my mum, telling her I was going to win this for you.
"She'd seen me win the Irish title and a few things but never anything on TV. And now I told her I wanted to do it again."
He would destroy the world's number two and three in the semi-final and final (beating his now good friend Thorburn in the decider); he was now the form player after Davis.
Sheffield would demonstrate that; en route to the final, he defeated two of the top three in the world. Davis had won their last eight encounters. Nobody expected anything but a ninth.
The final was staged over the final weekend of April, with two sessions on each day. A good start was paramount against a player renowned for his metronomic, monotonous zeal.
"Steve didn't have a drink with the boys, he kept himself to himself. It was a bit like the way Nick Faldo played golf. The sense of humour was always there, Steve always used to send himself up. But he was so focused on his game so nobody used to see that side of him."
Taylor would lose all seven frames of the first Saturday session.
"That's where this game is so difficult, the demons. I sat there for the whole afternoon session when he couldn't miss. You don't get it in any other sport, that sort of helplessness.
"When you're sat in your seat, you literally cannot do anything to effect what your opponent is doing. You can't kick him or punch him, though you feel like it. I knew I'd done little wrong in the tournament. There was still a long way to go. It was just about waiting for a chance. Keep calm. Stay focused."
And his mother's voice, from afar. 'Just give it your best shot Dennis. You've been playing so well. The only reason you're not doing anything is because you didn't get any chances.'"
That night, he reeled off the last six frames with one visit breaks. "It felt like he was 9-7 down overnight rather than 9-7 ahead.
"I'd come back to only two behind and with all the adrenalin there was no way I was going to slip. So we cracked open a bottle and I had a couple of glasses of it before I went to bed. I slept a little easier than he did.
"I played Steve a lot. I lost a really close semi-final the year before. People forget that. I forgot it for a while. I'd beaten him in '79. I knew I could compete with Steve. A lot of players were overawed and were beaten before they unlocked their case. I knew I could play my best snooker against him.
"I won 19 tournaments around the world and he always told me I could have achieved a lot more if I raised my game against all the other players as much as did against him. It was fear. You knew if you didn't turn up he would hammer you."
On Sunday, Davis always maintained his lead; indeed, he would do so until the game's final shot. At 17-15, he needed only frame for victory but Taylor came back at him again. The final frame, with 18.5 million people watching in the UK, began at 11.15pm.
He made a break of 22 but lost position. "I thought it was gone then," he says, as Monday morning loomed.
"I'd potted a ridiculous brown, probably one of the best shots I'd ever played, a tricky blue and pink. Then I just tried all sorts with the black. A double in the middle. Then a double from the bottom to the baulk pocket.
"If I was going to lose, I'd go down fighting. I'm 36. My attitude if it was there I was going to have a go. Not die wondering.
"I wasn't going to play a safety shot, mess that up and leave it on a plate. I'd rather have a go and if I hit it hard enough, there are two corner pockets it can go in and then try and get the white reasonably safe. It was almost confusing Steve at that stage.
"The only way you can stick it is if the black hangs over the pocket."
But then he did leave it hanging, missing a tricky long-ranger past the pink and blue spot into the green pocket; even now, you can see him lift himself off the shot when making contact.
"I really twitched on that one. I walked away, hadn't realised it was still moving, turned my back again and thought, I've lost it.
"Then I turned around and saw the cut back. Well, I thought I'd make it so I knew he would."
Davis approached the table, he recalls, as if he were using someone else's legs to do so. Even whispering Ted was almost rendered completely silenced by what happened next. "No!"
"You always hit a cut back shot like that thick under pressure," says Taylor. "His brain was telling him not to hit thick. So he over-compensated and hit it too thinly.
"It's funny, we do a show together and occasionally when he's trying to re-enact the miss, it goes in! Which always goes down well!"
When the black ball eventually disappeared, Taylor's reaction became as folkloric as the achievement itself. Tip-toeing towards the trophy, as if afraid someone would break the spell, before planting a kiss upon it.
"No matter where you go, people raise an imaginary cue over their head, or else turn their glasses upside down and wag their finger at you," he smiles.
"People tell me I must get fed up of it. How could you? It's a reminder of the greatest moment of my career."
A day later, he was feted in his home-town, near the old Mourne Crescent house where he grew up; a catholic priest and protestant minister shared the stage with his proud family. A people, briefly, united.
The boy had brought it all home to Barrack Square. And now everyone could see him. Even, somewhere he was sure of it, even Annie. Top of the world, ma.