Five-ton O’Brien breaks record run

by Stephen Findlater

FERGAL O’Brien produced one of the best performances of his snooker career as he ran up five centuries in his 6-5 win over Barry Hawkins in the second round of the UK Championship.
In so doing, he became the first man to produce five tons in an 11-frame match and he was suitably delighted with his performance at York Barbican.
“It’s got to be up there with the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Lucan’s 44-year-old O’Brien. “It’s just great to play the way I can against a strong opponent.”
He opened up with a 101 before Hawkins swept into a 4-2 lead. O’Brien got back into the contest with 100, 111 and 111 back-to-back and subsequently won out 113 in the decisive final frame.
“It’s incredible because Barry played very well too,” O’Brien added post-match.
“To be 4-2 down, I hadn’t done an awful lot wrong – maybe missed a couple of long pots. He was in first in the next two frames with 40 and 28 and missed and I managed to get centuries, there, and got into a groove.”
O’Brien won the Masters back in 1999 and, more recently, reached the Northern Ireland Open final but, asked whether he had ever played as well, he said this was one of his very best matches.
“I beat [Stephen] Hendry once in Goff’s and [Ronnie] O’Sullivan in Northern Ireland but that has to be up there. As far as I know, it’s a record for an 11-frame match.
“It’s years since I’ve had three centuries in a row, even in practice. Even then, he made a great long red and made 80 [to make it 5-5] but to finish off in the last frame was fantastic.”
He added that it came somewhat out of nowhere.
“I was practicing very hard but probably playing too much on my own. When I got to matches, there was no great fluency. The first round here was poor and I never really got going but got the win.
“This was great to beat such a good opponent and to play the way I can play. Over the years, there has been some slow grinds. In years to come, people can bang on that tape and say ‘he wasn’t too bad’.”
His run in the competition came to an end on Tuesday evening in another thriller, falling 6-5 to Stephen Maguire, letting slip a 5-3 lead.

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