Snooker: Doherty's joy is hard on Hendry

Guy Hodgson reports on the Irishman who deposed a snooker legend

It is a measure of the man that when he was beaten everyone assumed something was wrong with Stephen Hendry. Was he ill? Was there something on his mind? How could he perform so, well, un-Hendry like?

The immediate focus was on Ken Doherty after his 18-12 win in the final of the Embassy World Championship on Monday, but Hendry's lacklustre performance formed a substantial backcloth. The champion had not lost at Sheffield's Crucible since 1991; to succumb at the last within touching distance of a record seventh title was cruel but fascinating.

The BBC do not have the verified viewing figures for the final, but their interim estimate is that eight million tuned in for the climax, confirming an upturn in interest in the game. Like Steve Davis at his peak, people have nothing against Hendry except they want to see him beaten. As the six-times champion said sardonically: "It will be a popular result."

As indeed Doherty will be a popular champion. The 27-year-old from just outside Dublin had remained relatively unknown to the vast majority of even regular snooker watchers, thanks largely to his poor showings at the World Championship. He had been to Sheffield six times previously and had never got beyond the quarter-finals, but if ever a victory was borne on the back of hard labour it was this one.

It is hard to believe that six weeks before collecting his pounds 210,000 winner's cheque, Doherty's manager was despairing of him. There is little wrong with him, Ian Doyle said, but "he could sleep for Ireland". As a last resort he lambasted Doherty in the Irish press and got a reaction that was remarkable.

For four weeks Doherty stopped going home to Ireland and instead practised seven hours a day with Ronnie O'Sullivan at Ilford Snooker Club. The effect was Doherty's title - only his second ranking tournament since turning professional in 1990 - while O'Sullivan knocked in the fastest competitive maximum in history.

Up to the final, Doherty had played the best snooker at the Crucible, but beating the likes of Davis is not the same as defeating Hendry. That was shown when the champion was 15-7 down and seemingly running out of energy. His response was to win five frames in a row and to recall memories of his fightback from 14-8 down against Jimmy White in the 1992 final.

At 15-12, the tide was with the holder, but missing the third last red along the back cushion proved to be the high water mark. "I was shaking like a leaf," Doherty said. "I had lost a bad frame just before it and my heart dropped. I was pretty low. If he had got within two frames it could have gone either way."

Fortunately for Doherty his nerve held for a break of 17 and, having gone four ahead again he fell over the line to become the first world champion from the Republic of Ireland. "It's marvellous for my family," he said. "They were all out there playing. They were potting every ball."

For Doherty the immediate future is a trip to Dublin to join the family celebrations, and a year to balance his new found enthusiasm for work against the commercial opportunities his status will bring. Meanwhile, Hendry will spend the next 12 months toiling to depose him.

"It's not disastrous, but it is disappointing," said Hendry, who has won five other tournaments this season. "I'd swap the world title for the other events, but I'm No 1 in the world by a country mile and that's a consolation to take away. I've had a season that many other players would die for. I'm only 28. I'm not gone yet."

Doherty fact file

1969: Born 17 September, Dublin.

1989: Became World Amateur Champion.

1990-91: Turned professional and lost to Steve Davis in first round of World Championship.

1992-93: Won first ranking tournament, the Regal Welsh Open.

1993-94: Beaten by Jimmy White in World Championship quarter-finals.

1994-95: Went out of World Championship at first hurdle.

1995-96: Won the Dr Marten's European League.

1996-97: Captained Ireland to final of World Cup. Won world title.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin