PATRICK Wallace is already counting down the days until the first weekend in January when he will get the chance to, once again, grace the hallowed tables at one of snooker’s most iconic venues, Goffs in Kildare.
Once again, the Senior Irish Masters will be held there and legends of the sport, including Jimmy White, Ken Doherty, Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson and Willie Thorne will be joined by Senior World Champion Aaron Canavan, Republic of Ireland wild card Rodney Goggins, who is a former under-21 World Champion, and Dungannon’s Wallace to make up the eight-man field that will compete for the title.
For several reasons, Wallace, who earned his place by winning a World Seniors qualifier at Celbridge Snooker Club in November, beating Goggins in the semi-finals and Jonathan Bagley, the world number one ranked senior, in the final, hopes for a change in fortune at the venue and against his quarter-final opponent.
Last year, the former World Championship quarter-finalist drew his hero, Jimmy White, in the opening round, but having been bed-ridden with illness the week leading up to the event, things didn’t go entirely to plan.
“I was totally made up to get to play last year and I got Jimmy White in the draw, my all time snooker hero, and I’d be playing him in Goffs, so it was an absolute dream,” he exclaimed.
“But I got sick and I spent the week before the tournament in my bed. I managed to drag myself out of bed, drove down to Goffs, got beaten 3-0 by Jimmy – I couldn’t pot a ball – came back, got back into bed for another few days, so it turned from a dream into a bit of a nightmare so I’m hoping that this year turns out to be a bit better!”
And he’d also like to fare better against his quarter-final opponent, Canavan, who beat him in the World Senior Championship final last year, in the last frame, on a respotted black!
The Channel Islander then beat him again in Northampton, coming from 2-0 down on that occasion, but Wallace turned the tide in Jersey in November, beating him 3-0, which he hopes is a sign of things to come.
“We are similar in style, so it tends to be a tight game between us, but I was glad to get the monkey off my back against him! Hopefully it will be 2-2 between us after Goffs,” he said.
All four quarter-finals at Goffs are scheduled for Saturday, January 5, with Doherty v Goggins first up in the afternoon, followed by the clash of 1985 and 1986 world champs Taylor and Johnson. In the evening, Wallace faces a rematch with Canavan of their senior world final in March. That game is followed by White against Thorne in a repeat of the 1986 Irish Masters final, which took place at the same venue.
The winners will progress to the semi-finals on Sunday afternoon, with the final taking place that same night.
Tickets are still available for the gala dinner with all the players on the evening of Friday, January 4, as well as all the sessions of the snooker itself and are available at ticketmaster.ie, with ticket prices starting from as little as 10 euros.