Doherty in control at Irish Masters


Ken Doherty is safely though to the second round of the Failte Ireland Irish Masters after a 5-3 defeat of Barry Pinches at Citywest today.

The Dubliner showed no ill-effects from last month's burst eardrum and produced a battling performance in front of his home fans.

"I feel better, and it's nice to win here because this tournament is second only to the world championship for me," said Doherty, who compiled breaks of 50, 63, 56, 67 and 56.

Paul Hunter played through the pain barrier to finally record his first victory of 2005.

The world number four defeated Malta's Tony Drago 5-3 to end a seven-match losing run which began last November.

But the three-time Wembley Masters champion was almost forced to pull out of the event, having developed mystery stomach pains a fortnight ago.

"I'm in constant pain down my right-hand side, and it makes it hard to bend over and play," said Hunter.

"I thought I might have appendicitis and went to the doctors, but they don't know what's wrong with me.  They asked if I've ever had an operation on my kidneys, because they couldn't find one of them.

"The doctor told me to come and play, and if the pain was still there to go back and they would perform keyhole surgery."

The pain did not have an adverse effect on his form at the table today, though.

Hunter (26) lost in the last 16 of November's UK Championship, in the opening round of the Welsh Open, Malta Cup and the Masters and all three of his contests in the Premier League.

He trailed Drago 3-2 but weighed in with a break of 132 to win the sixth frame, made it 4-3 with an effort of 72 and easily clinched the eighth to reach the last 16.

Seventh seed Matthew Stevens fashioned runs of 81, 91 and 61 as he defeated Nottingham's Anthony Hamilton 5-3.

Tonight's order of play:(7pm) Jimmy White (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng), Steve Davis (Eng) v Mark Davis (Eng), John Higgins (Sco) v Michael Judge (Irl), David Gray (Eng) v Gerard Greene (NIrl).