As I write this, I am just finished practice in preparation for the UK championships which start next week.
And boy am I buoyed at the thought of getting there, thanks mainly to a great night in Faughs GAA club in Temoleogue in Dublin last Saturday night. I was part of an exhibition game at the club and in my final visit to the table, I made a 147 break – snooker’s heaven for sure.
Truthfully though it doesn’t take a break like that to enjoy the evening, there is always a great warmth when the audience is made up of sports people who like to hear stories about your career and the characters in the game.
Still, it’s these sort of moments when the 147 is actually racked up and the reaction of the crowd which keeps me going, believing there is one more big tournament inside me to get out.
In fact, Dennis Taylor and myself had a great week going all over Ireland playing exhibitions and having some funny interactions with audiences from Drogheda to Derry and Coleraine in between.
Dennis is now 73 and it is 1985 since that never to be forgotten night he was crowd world champions against Steve Davis but people who weren’t even born then seem to know and love him.
Mind you, he is a right bandit when it comes to golf as he always seems to win the money off the hookie handicap that he has. His nickname is ‘Tramlines’ because he is always right down the middle and while the rest of us are playing military golf – left and right, he is more often than not on the green putting for points while we are trying to rescue a hole with a shot even professionals wouldn’t try.
I wouldn’t trade these days with Dennis for the world though, it is such a time of fun and laughs… none bigger than when I got up and actually sang in Peadar O’Donnell’s in Derry on one of the occasions. A case of going with the flow rather than hitting any high notes as a singer I think!
I had two great golfing treats during the week as well – I got to play Royal Co Down and Ballyliffin, arguably two of the finest courses in the country if not the globe.
This week as well as trying to squeeze in as much practice as I can I am commentating on the Champions of Champions even in Bolton which so far has seen John Higgins and Marc Selby qualify into the latter stage.
However, the place will really liven up today (Thursday) when Ronnie O’Sullivan breezes into town and takes part. Ronnie is one of those rare stars who just puts bums on seats – a bit like Alex Higgins could do back in his heyday.
Snooker is under something of a revival thanks to the likes of Ronnie and I notice it is creeping back on several channels again with the UK of course right in the middle of the BBC sporting schedule when it comes around.