Snooker: Doherty's joy is hard on Hendry
Guy Hodgson reports on the Irishman who deposed a snooker legend
Wednesday 07 May 1997
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.
Latest in Sport
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...