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"I still love playing, I still love competing" | Ken Doherty's fire still burns

Ken Doherty dropped into Off The Ball on Thursday where he spoke about the pain of missing out on...

Other Sports

"I still love playing, I still love competing" | Ken Doherty's fire still burns

Ken Doherty dropped into Off The Ball on Thursday where he spoke about the pain of missing out on qualifying for the World Snooker Championships and with it his tour card.

The Dubliner has not given up on his playing career, realising he came up against a good player in qualifying.

"Mark King played great snooker and he's a very experienced player who pushed Ding all the way, he was only beaten 10-9 in the first round.

"It's a difficult one for me and it's difficult in the qualifiers because every player wants to get to The Crucible and just play there.

"Even players like me who have played there many times over the years, it's such a special place.

"I miss playing there, even when you're not playing just to commentate or do the analysis, it's just fantastic.

"It's a great venue, great atmosphere and you get that sense of history there when you walk out from those curtains onto the floor."

Missing out on playing at The Crucible is obviously a painful experience, as is losing his tour card, but Doherty will not make any sudden career decisions.

"I don't know what's going to happen now," said the 1997 World Champion. "We just have to wait and see next year, I may get offered a wild card and if I do, I definitely want to keep playing.

"I'm going to The Crucible for the World Seniors on the Wednesday when the World Professional Championships finish.

"We play the World Seniors at The Crucible, so at least I get to play there anyway. So after that, we'll see what happens.

"I still love playing, I still love competing and I still love being involved in the other aspects of the game. I'd like to continue for a little while longer, we'll just have to see what happens."

Ken Doherty

Doherty says life in professional sport is far more difficult when one is a bit longer in the tooth.

"Your time and commitment to the game [is limited] when you have other things in your life, family, and stuff," says the Dubliner.

"You can't do the seven or eight hours that you once did when I was an 18 or 20-year-old, when I first came on the scene. I can't do that anymore, so it does get a little bit harder.

"The competition has gotten much stiffer, no doubt, but one thing that never changes is your love for the game.

"I still love playing, I still love playing and competing and battling your wits against other players, even the younger ones coming through.

"That love for the game will never die, for sure."


Despite losing his tour card and playing the seniors circuit, Doherty believes he has plenty to give to the game, even to his younger self.

"I'll be 51 shortly," says the former World Champion. "If I was playing the 20-year-old Ken Doherty I would whisper a few things in his ear.

"But the Ken Doherty of 20 would give the Ken Doherty of 50 about a 21 point head start.

"I'd just say (to my younger self) 'keep enjoying the game, keep practicing.' What I would say to the kids coming through 'work hard' keep the practice and keep the love for the game.

"One thing is to watch the other players, watch the likes of O'Sullivan, Higgins, Williams and all of the great players.

"When I was a kid, I wish I had watched a lot more snooker on tv and listen to the guys. You can learn so much from watching those guys.

"You think you know it all when you are 20, you go into the practice table and play a lot of tournaments. I didn't watch a lot of snooker on tv at that age because I thought I had seen it all.

"I didn't want to be watching what other players did but I wish I did. You can learn so much from how they go about making breaks and the tactical side.

"That's what I would say to a young Ken Doherty, and also don't be afraid to elaborate.

"Talk to sports psychologists, talk to coaches a bit more, and try to improve on your technique as best you can.

"To get any little edge you can is always a plus."

You can listen to the full interview with Ken on the OTB Podcast Network here.

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Ken Doherty World Snooker Championships