Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Honest Joe eyes top prize

During the recent Northern Ireland Trophy at the Waterfront Hall, Salwan Cartwright-Shamoon, a 15-year-old student from Campbell College sat down with Belfast snooker star Joe Swail

Joe Swail picked up a cue at the tender age of 11, and by 13 was taking the game seriously with the dream that one day he’d become a professional player.

Growing up as a teenager in Belfast the ‘Outlaw’, inspired by true great and fellow Ulsterman Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, had nothing else on his mind but snooker.

He fulfilled this dream in 1991 by becoming a professional and after that it took him just two seasons to reach the top 32 and one more to reach the top 16.

However, his history in the rankings has been some what unpredictable, he once held a highly-respected 10th, then fell to 40th a few seasons later.

When asked about the reasons behind this , he honestly answered: “I just don’t know.”

He said that Ronnie O’Sullivan is currently the best snooker player on the professional circuit and said that was due to a combination of two key factors, his natural talent and many hours of practice.

Joe is partially deaf, although he said that the only disadvantage this brings him whilst playing snooker is a form of tinnitus (ringing noise in the ear), especially when he is under pressure.

His playing style is easily distinguished from others due to his very unique and unorthodox style of cuing, with his arm bent 45 percent outwards.

It isn’t recommended by any snooker coach but it seems to work for Joe!

He is also renowned for playing well at the World Championships held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Joe has been a semi-finalist on two occasions and has been in the last 16 on four other occasions.

He told me the reason for his successes at the Crucible is due to the longer matches that are played.

This year, he lost to Liang Wembo in the second round after staging a terrific comeback from 11-8 down. He then had a bad miss on the brown costing him a place in the top 16.

Despite this setback, he still feels there is a realistic chance that one day he may become world champion. However he is less convinced that he’ll ever become world number one.

Joe is one of the most likable players on the snooker circuit. He is so friendly and always appears to have a smile on his face whilst playing the game he loves. Without doubt he is a true ambassador to the game of snooker.

He has recently decided to take time out of his demanding schedule and go down the line of coaching snooker to kids, in either one to one or group sessions.

He said it was a great way to give something back to the community and also a new way |to analyse his own game.

l For further information about coaching sessions with Joe visit his website at www.joeswail.co.uk.

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