2020 Northern Ireland Open – Ronnie beats Jamie O’Neill in the last 128 round

Ronnie beat Jamie O’Neil by 4-1 to book his place in the last 64 of the 2020 Northern Ireland Open. He has never lost in the first round of a Home Nations event in 17 attempts, which is qite remarkable.

Here are the scores:

NIOpen2020L128ROSvONeilScores

And here is the report by Eurosport:

MARCUS FOLEY

Ronnie O’Sullivan began his pursuit for a first Northern Ireland Open title with a convincing 4-1 victory over Jamie O’Neill in the first round.
The reigning world champion has lost the past two finals to Judd Trump in 2018 and 2019, but will be looking to go one better this week.

The second seed could face Trump again in the final, but his next task will be to see off either Elliot Slessor or Li Hang in the second round.

I thought I played alright, I’m pleased to get that win. He’s a dangerous player,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.”
“[The tables] are all playing hard for me at the moment so I’m probably not the best person to ask. Some days your touch is good, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you’re chasing the white around the table.”

On his activities away from the table, O’Sullivan added:
I RAN EIGHT MILES THIS MORNING IN 57 MINUTES, SO GETTING FITTER. I’LL TRY AND DO AN EASY FIVE TOMORROW THEN GO FOR A 10-MILER WEDNESDAY. MY AIM THIS MONTH IS TO FOCUS ON MY RUNNING, IT’S A BIT HARD FOCUSING ON JUST SNOOKER SO YOU’VE GOT TO TRY AND FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE DOING. FOR ME IT’S THE RUNNING, I’M KEEN TO GET MY TIMES DOWN

Both players had chances in the opening frame but it was O’Sullivan who got over the line with a break of 60, and the second seed made it 2-0 after a prevailing in a safety exchange with the world No 82.
O’Neill got on the board in the third frame, and though he was unable to close it out when leading 66-6, he benefited from O’Sullivan rolling the white in after the green when looking to reduce the deficit.

A break of 57 saw O’Sullivan edge closer to victory, and he closed it out a frame later with a classy 125 century.

And this is WST report:

Rocket Too Strong For O’Neill

NIOPen2020ROS-1World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the second round of the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open with a 4-1 defeat of Jamie O’Neill.

O’Sullivan has reached the previous two Northern Ireland Open finals. On each occasion he faced world number one Judd Trump and lost both times by a 9-7 scoreline.

Today’s match was a repeat of O’Sullivan and O’Neill’s first round clash at last season’s English Open, when the Rocket battled back from 3-2 down to win 4-3. Matters were far more straightforward for the six-time Crucible King this evening, who will face either Elliot Slessor or Li Hang next.

O’Sullivan averaged just 14.8 seconds per shot on his way to victory. He secured an early 2-0 advantage, before O’Neill got his solitary frame on the board thanks to a break of 66. However, O’Sullivan was undeterred and finished his opponent off with runs of 57 and 125.

O’Sullivan said: “For me, that is as good as any win. Any players outside of the world’s top 64 are harder than beating top players these days. They go out there, no pressure, come out swinging and invariably they get the rub of the green.

“You have to fight for everything out there as you are on a hiding to nothing. I can’t even win tonight, I just had to avoid getting cake sploshed in my face.”

Those are a few short videos shared on social media by Eurosport UK and WST:

Ronnie’s postmatch with the ES pundits

Last balls of the match:

Ronnie’s interview with WST:

And Ronnie’s extraordinary positional shot … in the frame he lost

 

My assesment:

Ronnie played well, but not outstandingly well. He definitely didn’t take any liberties which is nice to see. Whatever he said, he’s certainly trying 100% despite struggling with motivation because he finds the Milton Keynes environment uninspiring, and although the absence of crowd has helped him in Sheffield, he clearly misses the buzz they bring.

Running has been his passion for a long time, and it’s something he can do despite the Covid-19 circumstances. We all need something to help us through the current difficult times, and running does it for Ronnie I suppose.

 

4 thoughts on “2020 Northern Ireland Open – Ronnie beats Jamie O’Neill in the last 128 round

  1. About that great positional shot during Ronnie’s counter clearance attempt.

    Trump played a relatively similar shot last year in the semi final of the Northern Ireland open against John Higgins when Judd was leading 4-3. Everyone was stunned about that shot and I think there were even some pundits saying that Ronnie wouldn’t be able to pull such a shot off.

    Of course, a lot depends on the situation on the table, which angle you have with the cue ball but also how the other remaining balls are spread on the table but do you guys think that Ronnie maybe had Trumps shot from last year in his mind while thinking ‘I CAN pull it off too and I will prove it’?
    Or do you think that Ronnie just played the shot 100% focus on keeping the break going?

    I personally think that Ronnie somehow had that shot from Trump in the back of his mind ever since Trump played that shot. Ronnie mentioned quite a few times already that he always tries to keep evolving his abilities. Like trying to adjust his cue action slightly from time to time (yeah, we all know he still hasn’t found a good cue action…!), working with Steve Feeney and Steve Peters, staying in good shape, …
    In a way, Judd is evolving the game of snooker because he plays shots like that in the middle of a frame to keep the break going. I think Ronnie picks up on those shots and tries to learn from it to add that ‘weapon’ to his arsenal as well.

    Interested to know what you think of it. 🙂

    • I would be very surprised if Ronnie had Judd in his mind at such a moment in the match. That said, he might have been inspired by Judd to work on such shots in practice.

  2. It was a good match, Ronnie did what he needed to win, he was patient and it was good to see he took no liberties, even though O’Neill missed a lot more than last year at the English Open when they played and when Ronnie looked a lot more impatient and irritable. A big pity about the in-off in frame 3, it would have been a great counter-clearance.

    I can imagine that Milton Keynes is not too interesting and to have every event in the same place is boring, but I’m afraid this is going to last for awhile and Ronnie and all the players are lucky that the tournaments can go on even if in such a form, under the circumstances.

  3. I can understand where Ronnie’s coming from, feeling like it’s tough to prioritize snooker this season when there are only a few big events he wants to play in and all of the events are in MK with no crowd. I do think he’ll do what he thinks he needs to do to give himself a decent chance at the UK and WSC, and other than that he’ll just do a bit of practice right before the other events and not worry too much about his results.

    It will be interesting to see if he plays the Masters this year, since he (presumably?) won’t have to deal with stuff like having to get tickets for his friends and such.

    BTW: 1995 was the last time (prior to this season) that Ronnie began his season with 3 events in which he didn’t win more than 2 matches in a row. He has never begun a season with 4 such events…

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