World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan showed his fighting qualities at the Waterfront Hall last night to end Ken Doherty’s hopes in the Northern Ireland Trophy.
The Rocket was in grave danger of being snuffed out by the 1997 World champion from Dublin as he trailed by four frames to two.
But O’Sullivan rattled off a hat-trick of frames with breaks of 83, 74 and 92 to seal a dramatic victory.
Doherty looked as though he was going to cause an upset after edging in front thanks, in the main, to a superb 110 break to square the match at 1-1.
That was all the encouragement he needed to get his nose in front and further breaks of 75 and 65 seemed to take the match away from O’Sullivan.
But back he came to give the Belfast crowd the show they had come to witness.
With the match poised at 4-4 it was all down to the final frame and Doherty was blown away as O’Sullivan notched a superb 92 break to send Doherty crashing out.
Mark Selby made a winning start to the new season with victory yesterday.
Last season's Masters and Welsh Open champion impressed with a comfortable 5-1 win against qualifier Andrew Higginson at the Waterfront Hall.
The world number four will now lock horns with Preston's Ian McCulloch, a two-time ranking event runner-up, in the last 16-stage tomorrow afternoon.
"I felt a little bit nervous at the start, which is only natural I suppose, but that's a great start to the season for me," reflected the Leicester potter.
"Andrew's a great player so it was nice just to get over the line."
Selby pocketed breaks of 73, 50, 89 and 47 to progress and then revealed his aims for the new season.
"I want to win more tournaments this season," he added. "I'd also like to stay in the top four and get closer to the number one spot. You have to set your goals even higher now that you're in the top four.
"I've not really put my cue down over the summer. I had a week in Egypt with my girlfriend, but I played a tournament in China
and have also been involved with John Higgins' World Series of Snooker, so I've been busy. I've not really had time to rest."
Ali Carter, last season's World Championship runner-up, also made a flying start to the season with a 5-1 win over qualifier Rory McLeod.
The Tiptree professional, a qualified pilot, was always ahead against McLeod and went through with breaks of 67, 54 and 57. Next up for the world number seven is a last-16 showdown with either Ding Junhui, China's leading player, or Mark Davis, a qualifier from Sussex. Barry Hawkins, who dumped out crowd favourite Jimmy White in the first round, is also through following a 5-2 win over Hong Kong's Marco Fu.
Last season's Grand Prix winner Fu compiled breaks of 48 and 96, but Dartford's Hawkins pocketed runs of 60, 40, 52 and 45 to set up a meeting with Welshman Ryan Day or Preston qualifier Stuart Pettman.
RESULTS: Mark Selby (Eng) 5 Andrew Higginson (Eng) 1; Ali Carter (Eng) 5 Rory McLeod (Eng) 1; Barry Hawkins (Eng) 5 Marco Fu (HK) 2; John Higgins (Sco) 5 Dave Gilbert (Eng) 2; Joe Perry (Eng) 5 Jamie Cope (Eng) 2; Ryan Day (Wal) 5 Stuart Pettman (Eng) 4; Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 5 Ken Doherty (Ire) 4.