SNOOKER great Ken Doherty has challenged Cork snooker player Aaron Hill to emulate the recent success of the new world snooker champion Luca Brecel.
Luca Brecel recently became the fourth non-British winner at the Crucible Theatre after he held off a Mark Selby fightback.
Ken who famously won the World Snooker Championship in 1997 said Luca’s story should inspire Aaron.
“Aaron Hill is doing really well. It is great to have him back on the circuit and back on the tour.
"Hopefully, he will have a big year next year. Luca’s story should really inspire the likes of Aaron and other young snooker players in Ireland.
"His success shows what can be achieved through hard work, determination, and belief in yourself,” he said.
Aaron who grew up on Cathedral Road in Gurranabraher and who honed his skills at Crucible Snooker Hall off Blarney Street has been backed by Ken to get his just rewards if he keeps working hard.
“Aaron has the talent and is well capable. He should keep working hard and hopefully, he will get his rewards. It is a tough sport and it can be hard to make the breakthrough.
"The opportunities and rewards are there if you do get in and you do make the breakthrough, but it requires a lot of hard work.”
The Irish snooker star is confident Luca Brecel’s recent championship win will help ‘generate’ new snooker fans and help snooker break into new markets.
“It was one of the most amazing championships that we have ever had. The 147, the comebacks, and the way Luca played throughout the tournament.
"Luca was a worthy winner. He has an extravagant and cavalier type of style which is just incredible to watch.
“I think the recent win from Luca will help generate new fans and help snooker break into new markets.
"The comeback Luca had against Si Jiahui was one of the best we have ever seen at the Crucible Theatre. I think that will bring a lot of new fans in. People like his style of play which is very open and attacking.
"It is entertaining and the crowds watching at home and live at the Crucible loved and responded to it,” he added.
“It still feels like yesterday,” said Ken as he recalled his own World Snooker Championship success back in 1997 after he defeated Stephen Hendry.
“It is hard to believe it is 26 years since I won the World Championship title. I have great memories. It was a very special moment when I came back to Dublin with the trophy.
"I got an open-top bus through the city centre with all my family and friends. It was a very special time.
"I was there with the cup at the opening of an envelope that year.”
The Irish snooker legend is currently competing in the World Snooker Championship senior section which is also held at the Crucible. Ken admits that he still ‘loves’ playing.
“I am currently playing in the World Snooker Championship for the senior players. It is special to play at the Crucible.
"I am loving every minute of it. I am practicing regularly. Jimmy White is in it, along with Stephen Hendry and Joe Johnson, all the past champions.
"There is lots of new blood and lots of good young players also competing in it.”
Ken who is a huge Manchester United fan said he met up with Cork soccer star Roy Keane at the Crucible and he knows John Egan well as he now lives in Sheffield full time.
“I am based in Sheffield. I am delighted that Sheffield United got promoted to the Premier League. It will give a boost to the city. I can go and watch Man United when they come to Bramall Lane next year.
"I know John Egan. I have met him a few times in Sheffield. He is a lovely lad. He has had a great season for Sheffield United and I am delighted for him that he will be playing in the Premier League again next year.
“Roy Keane was in attendance for the snooker. He has been here for the last few years. He texted me wondering if he can come up and I told him he is always welcome.
"We had a great catch-up. Roy loves snooker and he got to see the 147 live which was great. He was some player. He was one of my heroes,” he added.
Ken said he visits Old Trafford as often as possible to see his favourite soccer team.
“Man United still have the FA Cup to play for. It looks like they have secured a top-four place so there is lots of stuff to build on.
"I try and get to Old Trafford as often as I can.”
Ken is scheduled to play an exhibition game in Miko’s Bar in Mitchelstown on Tuesday, May 16.
Ken is looking forward to coming to Leeside.
“I am looking forward to playing and meeting snooker fans in Cork. I will be bringing the trophy I won in 1997 along with me. I am looking forward to visiting Cork again. I love coming back home to Ireland.
"There are a lot of great players around the county so I will have to have my wits about me.”