STEPHEN MAGUIRE, one of snooker’s great competitors, enjoyed an end of year boost of confidence by claiming victory in the Lisbon Open, event 5 of the European Tour, on Sunday night.
Maguire, the world no.12, defeated Matt Selt 4-2 to win the title and rubberstamp his qualification for the Players Championship finals next March.
Selt had beaten Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins to reach the final and won the opening frame with a break of 78. He was well placed to make it 2-0 but snookered himself on the yellow from the black off the last red. Maguire eventually cleared brown to black and then compiled a run of 100 to lead 2-1.
Selt, appearing in the first final of his professional career, levelled but experience told in the end and Maguire clinched victory with an effort of 86 in the last frame.
It completed a turnaround in fortunes for the Scot. After losing to Trump in the first round of the Champion of Champions just a month ago he was so down that he even floated the idea of packing snooker in. But since that setback he has appeared in the semi-finals of the European Tour event in Mulheim and the UK Championship and has now got his hands on more silverware.
“It feels good to be the last man standing,” Maguire said. “There were over 160 players in the tournament so I must have done something right in the last couple of days.
“It’s always special to win a tournament played for the first time. It’s nice. Hopefully we’ll come back next year and I’ll have a chance to defend it.
“The crowd got behind me. I don’t know why – I’m not a big smiler or anything like that – but they got behind me and I enjoyed it out there.
“Hopefully I can do a bit of damage in the Masters. That’s one trophy and it’d be nice to pick up another one by the end of the World Championship.”
The tournament itself attracted strong crowds for a country with no real snooker heritage. There were some complaints about chilly temperatures in the arena and some players were unhappy that World Snooker had chosen to experiment with a polish to deal with the kicks problem, though there were also players applauding the move.
The Lisbon Open was the last tournament of 2014 but there is still qualifying to come for the German Masters and World Seniors Championship before everyone downs cues for Christmas.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.