Fergal O’Brien suffers rapid exit at hands of Mark Selby
Irish player goes down 10-2 to defending world champion
Fergal O’Brien during his match against Mark Selby on day one of the Betfred Snooker World Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Photograph: Jon Buckle/PA Wire
Snooker’s marathon man was way off the pace as Mark Selby made a stunning start to his title defence at the Betfred World Championship.
Three days after Fergal O’Brien took a staggering two hours, three minutes and 41 seconds to win a deciding frame in the final round of qualifying, the Irish veteran was on the end of a 10-2 Selby onslaught.
O’Brien and David Gilbert set a world record for the longest frame in professional snooker in their high-stakes tussle on Wednesday, and it lasted longer even than the fastest marathon ever run.
Dubliner O’Brien had desperately craved a 10th Crucible appearance, having missed out in qualifying for the last six years, but it could hardly have gone any worse.
Selby had no appetite for going the full distance with 45-year-old O’Brien, whose grin when winning the ninth frame showed his relief at avoiding a whitewash.
He picked up a second frame too, but Selby soon crossed the winning line.
John Parrott’s 10-0 win over Eddie Charlton in 1992 remains the only time a player has failed to win a frame in Crucible history.
Selby modestly said his performance “could have been better”, and added: “I was gutted not to come out 9-0 after the first session, knowing there’d only been one 10-0 here.
“At 8-1, I was devastated when he won that frame.”
The 33-year-old has time off before his second match and said he plans to attend Leicester’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Stephen Maguire overwhelmed his fellow Scot Anthony McGill, also 10-2, ending a winless run in Sheffield that dated back to his 2012 quarter-final victory over seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.
Hendry retired that night, and Maguire went on to lose to Ali Carter in the semi-finals, before enduring four consecutive first-round exits at the Crucible, three of them by a spirit-crushing 10-9 margin.
This time Maguire exacted revenge for his defeat to McGill at the same stage two years ago, and did so in devastating fashion.
In the seven-frame burst that took him from 2-2 to 9-2, Maguire limited McGill to just one point while plundering 547 himself.
McGill said of the performance by Maguire: “He looked sharp and he looked a hell of a lot better than me.
“It’s happened to the best of them, players being drubbed. Steve Davis came here and got drubbed 10-1 one year so if it happened to him it can happen to anyone.
“You’ve got to take it on the chin.”