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English Player Rages At Dubliner's Tactics In World Championship Qualifier

PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Dubliner Fergal O'Brien will play Mark Selby in the first round of the World Snooker Championships on Saturday.

It's O'Brien's first appearance at the Crucible in seven years.

He got there, as the final player to qualify, by beating Englishman David Gilbert 10-9 on Wednesday night.

The deciding frame of that match was a record breaking one. Though, perhaps, not one players will take pride from being involved in.

The 19th frame of the match was the longest in snooker history, lasting two hours three minutes and 41 seconds, beating the previous mark by a little over 23 minutes.


Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Gilbert raged at O'Brien's slow play.

The pace of play was diabolical from pretty much start to finish, and it wasn't me.

I was 9-7 up, then the last three frames felt like they took about eight hours. It was worse than gruelling - that's not snooker.

This weekend will see O'Brien's 10th appearance at the Crucible. In the intervening years since his last time playing at the Sheffield venue, there were plenty of close shaves with qualification.

Six times O'Brien lost in the final qualifying game. Those matches included several narrow defeats - 10-9 on the black, 10-9 on a respotted black, 10-9 on the pink.


The 45-year-old said it would have been heartbreaking to lose again by that score on Wednesday.

He also admitted that the pressure to qualify led to his slow play.

In future would I like to play like that again? Absolutely not.

Did I overplay shots, did I double-check stuff? Probably yes, but such was the pressure.

Picture credit: Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE

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