Welsh wonder O’Donnell ready for the World Championship qualifiers

Mar 28
Qualifying for the World Championship is brutal old business.

With only 16 places up for grabs at the Crucible and a whole cast of talented cueists fighting it out, it’s not one for the feint hearted.

One man who knows this all too well is Martin O’Donnell. He’s still vying to make it through to the main venue for the first time in his career and can count 11 heart-breaking attempts.

This time he arrives in Sheffield as one of the ones to watch fresh from his run to the final of the Welsh Open – and all the confidence that comes with it.

“I’ll be going there with my chest puffed out because I proved a lot to myself,” the world number 59 told Snooker System.

“I feel like I’ve been given a real boost,” he continued. “A lot of people only really see what happens on the main table but I know a lot about the standards down the rankings and so it (the run to the final) wasn’t a surprise to me.”

O’Donnell chalked up impressive wins over the likes of reigning world champion Luca Brecel, Chris Wakelin and Elliot Slessor before losing in the final 9-4 to Gary Wilson.

“I played great all week apart from the final where we both struggled with the table a little bit,” he said.

“I didn’t quite attack the final the way I really wanted to but of course it was a great week all in all.

“I can take a lot of belief. You always think you can make it to the latter stages of tournaments and a final but until you do it you don’t completely know. Now I know that I really am capable of it and I’ll take lots of confidence from that.”

What will also help O’Donnell in his quest to reach the Crucible this year is knowing he can go there without the threat of his tour card on the line.

“Believe me, that can make you feel sick and it’s not very nice at all. It means I can go there and enjoy it a bit more – although it’s easy to say that now.

“Snooker can be a really brutal game. You can play really well and still get beat.

The game doesn’t always make a lot of sense like that and that can be frustrating.

“I know how tough this game is and you can lose to anyone on tour because there are a lot of good players who aren’t scared of anyone anymore.”

This probably explains why Martin won’t get carried away with his heroics at the Welsh.

“I’ve got to look at the big picture and see things in perspective. Everyone wants to win now but you’ve got to be patient,” he said.

“I’m a bit wiser now. I know I put the work in and I’ve learned to forgive myself more after the defeats.”

“I did a lot of good work in my chair and sometimes that can be the most important part of the game. A lot goes on (mentally) when you’re sat in your chair and it’s an important time. You could be back at the table at any time and you have to be ready to take the next opportunity that comes along.”
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