Irish Legends Cup 2016 – Day 2

Ireland beat England by 18-10 in the Dafabet Irish Legends Cup 2016. Ronnie himself played quite well, only losing one match, to Mark Allen in a very high quality contest.

The Irish team was the best and a deserving winner, much to the delight of the lively, lovely and enthusiastic Irish crowd. And they  celebrated … as Irish do, with Guinness!

2016 Irish Legends Cup: Black ball shoot outs

A very enjoyable weekend for all present, playing and watching alike.  It’s now Ireland 1-1 England. See you next year for the decider then…

Irish Legends Cup 2016 – Day 1

The Dafabet Irish Legends Cup 2016 is underway in the brilliant venue that is Goffs, and, after day 1 the Irish Team leads by 8-4, deservedly. Ken, Mark, Fergal and Joe all played well in front of a supportive, but fair, enthusiastic crowd. It was 3-3 after the first session, but only Stuart managed to get a win for England in the evening.

From Ronnie’s point of view it wasn’t a great day: England lost both doubles where he was involved, and Fergal beat him in the evening. He made a 121, the highest break so far, in the only match he won in the afternoon. But he looked happy to reconnect with Tony Knowles who is playing in a Legends event for the first time.

It’s first to 18, so the match certainly isn’t over.


Barry Hearn talking Ronnie and the Rack Pack


Barry Hearn: Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan is a throwback to the good old baize


Ronnie O’Sullivan celebrates his sixth win at snooker’s Masters following final at Alexandra Palace Action Images

SPORT is sometimes accused of lacking the real characters of yesteryear.

These days with so much at stake, no top sports star would dare be seen swigging a pint or having a crafty cigarette, as some sponsors would drop them like a hot potato.

To a large extent the ‘character’ has been squeezed so much they virtually no longer exist.

That is why I was so pleased to see Ronnie O’Sullivan equal Stephen Hendry’s six Masters titles last week and I’m sure he will set a new record.

I’ll agree with any person who says no one is bigger than the sport they play — but The Rocket gets closer than anyone I have ever known.

Ronnie is one of those rarities in sport — a personality who can play at the highest level and who can still be himself.

His OBE in the New Year’s Honours List was totally justified as he is regarded by many as the most naturally-gifted player in snooker history. A genius.

But with it comes real character.

Ronnie is real a throwback to the times when the stars of the green baize got away with some outrageous behaviour.

For instance the likes of the great Alex Higgins.

His excesses were not only tolerated by the public but celebrated.

If you long for those days of non PC, or if you are simply interested in finding out what it was like back then, the best recommendation I can give you is to go to the BBC’s ‘iPlayer and watch a ‘comedy-drama’ about snooker in the 1980s called Rack Pack.

Take 10 hours out of your life to see this warts-and-all eye-opener.

You might have guessed from the title that the programme lifts the lid on snooker, with the clock turned back to the sport’s glory days of the 1980’s when Jimmy Whirlwind White, Hurricane Higgins and Steve ‘Boring’ Davis were at their pomp

It’s brilliantly produced and acted . . . with comedian Kevin Bishop, who some might remember made his movie debut in Muppet Island, playing me!

James Bailey takes on the role of playing White, Will Merrick is Davis, Luke Treadaway is Higgins and Nichola Burley is Higgins’s wife, Lynn.

All have their lives peeled back to expose, in a show that shocks with its brutal honesty, what really went on.

There are characters and personalities in abundance, actors playing real people who lived life to the full with even their darkest days examined.

The rivalry between Davis and Higgins was intense.

They were as different as chalk and cheese as while Irishman Higgins, the People’s Champion’, took drugs, smoked heavily and drank vodka, Davis was seen sipping pints of milk.

Now Barry, I have a question for you: If this is so great – and I agree it is – why are the players fined whenever they set a foot wrong, or whenever they use  a bit colourful language and some of the PC brigade who are looking for offences everywhere complain?

Serious offences, and in particular match fixing, I agree 100% but … the odd swearing? Using some words – deemed potentially offensive – in the context of an expression that everyone understands doesn’t refer to the actual thing?

Ronnie’s Everest …

Ronnie O’Sullivan admits winning the world title in his 40s would be his ‘Everest’ 

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN is ready to try to scale his greatest peak – a world title in his 40s.


The Rocket equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of six Masters successes with a 10-1 destruction of Barry Hawkins on Sunday, winning an unprecedented 10 frames in a row.

But five-time world champion O’Sullivan, 40, is still two titles shy of his now-retired rival’s prized mark of seven on the greatest stage at the Crucible.

No player has won a world title in their 40s since O’Sullivan’s former mentor Ray Reardon at 45 in 1978.

And O’Sullivan admits lifting the trophy in May would be his ‘Everest’ – and has also thrown down the gauntlet to the next generation to step up and end his era of domination.

Having now won titles in the past 13 months with a broken foot and a bad back, he said: “To win a world title at 40 over 17 days at the Crucible, the difficult bit is the consistency.

“As you get older, you can lose it. Look at even the Masters over eight days. John Higgins, who is 40 like me and is winning titles, had a brilliant match and then went off the boil and went out.

“Keeping that for 17 days is the biggest challenge. It is hard in Sheffield especially when you have won it before, because you know exactly what it involves.

“You ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to climb that mountain?’ You know what you are in for to win and psychologically that can be off-putting.

“But you have to try and win the world championship, if you are a professional snooker player that is the one. It’s like a marathon – you get in there, and you know the rest will be hurting too.

“Sheffield is going to be a different sort of animal, but I’ll try and peak for the worlds. There are only so many tournaments you’ve got in you. As you get towards 40 you’ve got to savour these moments.

“Good players aren’t playing their best against me, I don’t know why that is. Maybe they feel under extra pressure against someone who hasn’t been playing regularly.

“Maybe they show me too much respect – I have done that in the past against Hendry.

“Maybe me, and John Higgins over the past year, have laid down the gauntlet a bit to the others.

“We are waiting for someone young, or two or three, to come through and take it away from us, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.”

Meanwhile Hendry, 47, reckons that some of O’Sullivan’s rivals should be feeling annoyed this morning.

The world number 6 breezed back after an eight-month sabbatical to win a big title, much as he did at the Crucible in 2013.

And when O’Sullivan has had the occasional lull in form, opponents have not taken advantage of it.

Hendry said: “It’s not like he has been on a beach, he has been playing exhibitions.

“If I was one of the other top players I would be disappointed and hurting a bit that he could come back and do that.

“I am talking really about the likes of Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, who probably thought they were favourites to win this. And Ronnie has come along and won it. They will be irritated.”