Official Fergal O'Brien Website

Northern Ireland Trophy - Belfast

Round 1
v
Dave Harold
5 - 1
Last 32
v
John Higgins
5 - 4
Last 16
v
Barry Hawkins
5 - 3
Quarter Finals
v
Ronnie O'Sullivan
5 - 2
Semi-Final
v
Mark Allen
6 - 3
Final
v
Stephen Maguire
5 - 9

Whilst I was disappointed to lose in the final, it was still a great week for me.
I had reached my first ranking final in eigth years and it was my first quarter-final in five years.
To get to the final was a great success.

The week started with a solid 5-1 win over Dave Harold. Dave is a tough, hard match player, so to win 5-1 was very pleasing.
Next I beat John Higgins 5-4. To beat the current world champion and world number 1 was a great victory,
especially as I finished off with two centuries a 142 and a 114, from 4-3 down.
Earlier in the match I also made breaks of over 60 and 80 and pinched a good frame to make it 3-3.
This win gave me great confidence.

In the last 16 I beat another tough match player, Barry Hawkins, 5-3.
I potted a good brown off it's spot and took the safe blue off the side cushion to win the last frame.
I did not play as well as I had in my match with John Higgins, but was still delighted with the result.
This win meant my first quarter final appearance in over five years.

I was really looking forward to my match against Ronnie O'Sullivan.
I was under no pressure as Ronnie was expected to win,
especially as the day before he had five centuries (including a 147), in beating Ali Carter 5-2.
This was an amazing achievement and the first time anyone had won a best of 9 frame match with five century breaks.
I cleared the last five colours to win the first frame which helped me settle down.
From 50 behind I fluked a red and cleared with an 80 break to lead 2-0.
It is important to try and stamp your authority when playing somebody like Ronnie as he can easily steam-roll you.
Ronnie made it 2-2, including getting a century break in frame 3.
After he missed a red early in the next frame, I stepped in and made a 70 break to win the frame and take a 3-2 lead.
After potting a long red in the next frame, I made a 70 break to lead 4-2.

In the last frame I made a 48 break, up to the brown, to win, which was the best break I have ever made,
and even better under the circumstances, where I was 4-2 up in a quarter-final against Ronnie O'Sullivan.
The position of the balls was very awkward, with a few reds on the cushion,
but one by one I managed to pot them all for a great victory.
This was definitely one of the best wins of my career.
That put me in the semi-finals playing against Mark Allen.

I beat Mark 6-3 in front of a packed auditorium.
Mark was the local favourite but the big crowd were very fair and the match was played in a great atmosphere.
From 2-2, I took the game by the scruff of the neck, to lead 5-2.
Mark won the next frame, but I won the ninth frame to clinch my place in the final.
Mark being the nice guy he is, wished me every success for the final.
It was a great night.

My first ranking final in eight years, saw me play Scotland's Stephen Maguire.
Coincidentally my three major finals (British Open - 1999, Masters 2001 and Belfast 2007)
were all held on the 11th of the month.
Stephen took the opening frame but I settled down to take a 2-1 lead. I had a chance to lead 3-1 at the interval
but missed the last red and from there Stephen moved into a 4-2 lead.
Stephen had a chance to take a 5-2 lead in the first session, but missed
and I cleared up to the pink to be only 4-3 down at the end of the first session.

I was hoping to have a good start that night
but it was Stephen who won three of the first four frames, to lead 7-4 at the interval.
I won the next to cut the deficit to 7-5, but Stephen won the next two frames to win the final 9-5.

Still it was a great week for me, £15,000 stg, a great confidence boost plus a jump up to 19 in the rankings.

I had great support all week in Belfast,
over 30 of my friends and family came up from Dublin for the final,

with a lot of them travelling up for nearly every match.
Thanks to them and thanks to everybody who e-mailed me during
and after the tournament to wish me well and to give me great support.
I really appreciated it.

 

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