Swail – Snooker’s In My Blood
Belfast’s Joe Swail admits he has missed playing in snooker’s biggest tournaments as he looks forward to the Dafabet Players Tour Championship Grand Finals in Galway.
Swail will be one of 32 players battling for the £100,000 top prize in the event at the Bailey Allen Hall at the National University of Ireland in Galway from March 12 to 17.
The 43-year-old Ulsterman reached the semi-finals of the World Championship twice, in 2000 and 2001, and got to the final of the Welsh Open in 2009. But after a loss of form he dropped off snooker’s professional tour at the end of the 2011/12 season.
Competing as an amateur, he entered several PTC events this season and proved that he can still cut it at the top level. At the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany last August, Swail beat the likes of Jimmy White, Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins to reach the final before losing to Mark Selby.
That helped the player nicknamed the Outlaw qualify for the Grand Finals, and he’ll be in Galway with all guns blazing.
“I have missed playing in the big tournaments because snooker is in my blood,” said Swail. “Getting to that final in Germany gave me a great buzz. I’m excited about Galway now because it’s been quite a while since I had a really big event to look forward to.”
Swail will be practising with world number seven Mark Allen in the build-up to the tournament to sharpen his game. Allen is in peak form having won his second ranking title at the Haikou World Open last Sunday.“Mark has asked me for a few games when he gets back from China this week,” said Swail. “He is such an incredible player so it will be good for me to have a few matches against him.
“And hopefully plenty of people from Northern Ireland will come down to Galway next Tuesday as both Mark and I will be playing.”
Swail’s performances in the PTC events could earn him a return to the main tour next season, but he is yet to decide whether the time is right.
“I’d like to think that I will give it a try but I’m still undecided,” he added. “I don’t want to go back just to make up the numbers, I’m only going to play if I feel that I can cut it. I want to compete and climb back up the rankings and if I don’t feel I can do that then I won’t turn pro. I have to be true to myself and make sure I’m not kidding myself.”
Swail’s opening match in Galway is against Stephen Maguire on the afternoon of Tuesday March 12. Also competing for the prestigious title will be the likes of Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Irish favourite Ken Doherty.