Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Legend Dennis Taylor honoured to enter our Hall of Fame

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. Carl Frampton and Michael O'Neill. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. Carl Frampton and Michael O'Neill. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Carl Frampton signs autographs and poses for selfies. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Niamh Reel, Ciara Byrne, Emma Magee, Eileen Rice, Kayla Burns and Cristin Brown
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Sarah Little, Michael Jenkins, Arlene Regan, Simon Snodden and Joanne Hayden pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Gillian McCrudden and Stacey Gibson pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Cristian Brown, Lauryn McKay and Eileen Rice from Sacred Heart School in Newry pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Carl Frampton signs autographs. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Carl Frampton signs autographs. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Carl Frampton lifted the trophy for Sports Star of the Year 2016 at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards presented by Belfast Telegraph managing director Richard McClean. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 12 - Hall of Fame award Snooker legend Dennis Taylor was given the Hall of Fame award, sponsored by the Parr Group. It was presented by Steve Parr, Managing Director of Parr Group, snooker star Joe Swail and Tyrone Manager Mickey Harte. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Snooker legend Dennis Taylor was given the Hall of Fame award in 2016, sponsored by the Parr Group. It was presented by Steve Parr, Managing Director of Parr Group, snooker star Joe Swail and Tyrone Manager Mickey Harte.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, Belfast Telegraph editor Gail Walker, Ulster Rugby manager Les Kiss and Belfast Telegraph sports editor Jim Gracey. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Ed Curran, Gail Walker and Hall of Fame award winner Dennis Taylor. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill picked up the Manager/Coach of the Year award, sponsored by Active Financial Life last year. It was awarded by Breeda Toner, Financial Advisor with Active Financial Life and Les Kiss from Ulster Rugby.
Award 11 - Manager/Coach of the Year award Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill picked up the Manager/Coach of the Year award,Ê sponsored by Active Financial Life. It was awarded by Breeda Toner, Financial Advisor with Active Financial Life and Les Kiss from Ulster Rugby. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 10 - Special Recognition Award Jonathan Rea picked up a Special Recognition Award sponsored by Volvo. It was presented to his father Jonny, Andy Duke from Volvo dealer, Greers of Antrim, and rugby legend Willie John McBride.Ê Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 9 - George Best Breakthrough Award Michael McGovern won the George Best Breakthrough Award, sponsored by Gym Co. It was presented to his father Terry, by Jim Conlon, Director of Gym Co and Northern Ireland sporting icon Pat Jennings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 8 - Paddy Patterson Award David Seaton won the Paddy Patterson Award, sponsored by the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, presented by Chair of the Forum, Roy Millar.   Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 7 - Team of the Year Award The Northern Ireland Football Team won the Team of the Year. Manager Michael O'Neill collects the award. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 7 - Team of the Year Award The Northern Ireland Football Team won the Team of the Year Award, sponsored by McComb's Coach Travel. Manager Michael O'Neill collected the award. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 6 - Local Heroes Award Slaughtneill GAA won the Local Heroes Award, sponsored by Crowne Plaza Belfast. It was presented by Rajesh Rana, Director of Crowne Plaza Belfast and Dame Mary Peters. Chair Sean McGuigan with Claire McCollum Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 6 - Local Heroes Award Slaughtneill GAA won the Local Heroes Award, sponsored by Crowne Plaza Belfast. It was presented by Rajesh Rana, Director of Crowne Plaza Belfast and Dame Mary Peters. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 5 - Special Recognition Award Rally driver Kris Meeke won a Special Recognition Award, sponsored by Volvo. His brother Barry, picked up the award on his behalf, from Philip Houston, Volvo dealer, SMW, Belfast and rally legend Paddy Hopkirk.   Barry Meeke with Craig Doyle. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 5 - Special Recognition Award. Rally driver Kris Meeke won a Special Recognition Award, sponsored by Volvo. His brother Barry, right, picked up the award on his behalf, from Philip Houston, Volvo dealer, SMW, Belfast and rally legend Paddy Hopkirk. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 4 - Sports Person with a Disability award. Bethany Firth won the Sports Person with a Disability award, sponsored by Crowne PlazaÊBelfast. She was presented with the award by George Graham, general manager of Crowne Plaza Belfast and former top Ireland cricketers, Kyle McCallan and Andrew White. Bethany Firth with Claire McCollum. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 4 - Sports Person with a Disability award. Bethany Firth won the Sports Person with a Disability award, sponsored by Crowne PlazaÊBelfast. She was presented with the award by George Graham, general manager of Crowne Plaza Belfast and former top Ireland cricketers, Kyle McCallan and Andrew White. Bethany Firth with Claire McCollum. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Rory Best won the Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year award, sponsored by Celerion. Paula Quinn, Recruitment Manager from Celerion and rugby legend Stephen Ferris presented the award to Jodie Best, Rory's wife. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 2 - Young Player of the Year Golfer Olivia Mehaffey won the Young Player of the Year, sponsored by Decathlon Belfast. It was presented to her father Philip by Richard Larmour, Marketing and Events Manager from Decathlon and Paralympians Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 2 - Young Player of the Year Golfer Olivia Mehaffey won the Young Player of the Year, sponsored by Decathlon Belfast. It was presented to her father Philip by Richard Larmour, Marketing and Events Manager from Decathlon and Paralympians Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Philip Mehaffey with Claire McCollum. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Methodist College Belfast 1st XI Girls Hockey Team  won the Young Team of the Year award sponsored by Subway and presented by Ireland hockey International Eugene Magee and Scott Hayes, Chairman of Subway Northern Ireland. Current team captain - Jodie Savage with Craig Doyle. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Award 1 - Young Team of the Year. Methodist College Belfast Girls hockey team won the Young Team of the Year award sponsored by Subway and presented by Ireland hockey International Eugene Magee and Scott Hayes, Chairman of Subway Northern Ireland. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Award 1 - Young Team of the Year. Methodist College Belfast Girls hockey team won the Young Team of the Year award sponsored by Subway and presented by Ireland hockey International Eugene Magee and Scott Hayes, Chairman of Subway Northern Ireland. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Jim Conlon, Claire McCollum and Craig Doyle pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tiffany Brian and Stacey Deller pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Claire McCollum and Craig Doyle pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Martin Lindsay and Trevor Ringland
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Caroline and Rodney McComb with Michael O'Neill
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Les Kiss and Stephen Ferris
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Martin Lindsay, Ad Curran and Len OÕHagan
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: John and Geraldine Condie
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Mark Regan, Claire Winter, Joanne McNeill and Kevin Carson
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Aiden Murphy, John Campbell and Gerry Magee
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Trevor Ringland with Pamela and Jimmy Kirkwood
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Brian Magee and Joe Swail
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Michael O'Neill and girls Methodist College Belfast
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Eoin and Art O'Hagan with Michael O'Neill
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Mike Todd and Jim Gracey
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Willie John McBride, Jackie Fullerton and Pat Jennings
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Alan Graham and Pamela Ballantine
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Rachel Johnston, Neil Black and Samantha Kerr
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: David and Joan Seaton
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Scott and Lorna Heyes with Frances and Kurt Courtney
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Marc MacFadyen, John Nicholl and Chris MacFadyen
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Chris and Chloe Cumming, Dermot O'Connell, Mark, Jennifer and Maudie Cumming.
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: John Sloan, Ivan Coffey and Walter Kennedy
February 2017 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Peter and Irene Finegan
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Stephen Ferris and Brian Scott pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Karen McGarvey and Julie Maguire pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Jim Conlon, Claire McCollum and Craig Doyle pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Andrew White and Ydele White pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Michael O'Neill with fans pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Paul and Janet Gray pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Ed Curran and Len O'Hagan pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Gavin Devlin, Michael O'Neill and Mickey Harte pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Hugh Black and Mark Irwin pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Michael O'Neill with fans pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Jim Gracey pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Martin Breen, Michael O'Neill and Mathew Breen pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Michael Gilvary, Ciaran McConnell and Neil McGeown pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Guests from Methodist College pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Michael O'Neill pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Barry Funston and Brian McIlroy from the Rory Foundation pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Carmel, Terry, Kathryn and Aine McGovern pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Pamela Ballantine and Jackie Fullerton pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Jim Conlon and friends from Gym Co pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Isabella Byrne, Nuala O'Neill and Emma Magee from Sacred Heart School in Newry pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Len O'Hagan, Martin Lindsay and Peter Rainey pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Jim Gracey, Alan Graham, Mike Todd and Pamela Ballantine pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Ciara Byrne, Sasha Boyle and Francis Keenan from Sacred Heart School in Newry pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Lynne McCluggage, Fiona McIlwaine, Jackie Armstrong Olive Fenton pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Damian and Tara Grimes pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Louise Taylor and Dennis Taylor pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Len O'Hagan, Anna Armstrong and Naomi Fenton pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Kayla Burns and Niamh Reel from Sacred Heart School in Newry pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Stephanie Stewart and Carter McVeigh pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Susan, Stephen, Claire Brodie pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Carol Morgan and Breeda Toner pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Keith Knox, Simon Cathcart and Sinead Cathcart pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Sam and Kris Boyce pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Nigel Stewart and Lorna Stewart pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Lorna and Scott Heyes pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Moyra and Mike Gibson pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Hazel and Leslie Busby pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Elaine and David Brown pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Chris McFadyen, John Nicholl and Mark McFadyen pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th February 2017 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016. Ronan and Hugh Rocks pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2016 in the Waterfront Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards hosts Craig Doyle and Claire McCollum. Photo by Claire McCollum/Twitter

By Steven Beacom

It may have been 32 years ago, but virtually every day someone will speak to Dennis Taylor about that iconic black ball finish against Steve Davis.

You know the one - 1985 World Championship final at the Crucible, with the score 17 frames each, ashen-faced Davis missing a chance he would normally take and Taylor coming to the table to sink the pot that would win him the biggest title in snooker. Cue above his head in celebration, finger wagging and 18.5 million people glued to their television screens well after midnight.

It remains one of sport's most thrilling, nail-biting and magical moments and one that Dennis never tires speaking about. Just as well.

Taylor is a Northern Ireland sporting great and while that victory is the stand-out memory of his playing career, he also enjoyed other notable successes, not least another stunning comeback victory against compatriot Alex Higgins in the 1987 Masters. He is now a revered commentator for the BBC and throughout it all has been a tremendous ambassador for this country.

Little wonder then that so many people were delighted to see him inducted into the Hall of Fame at last night's Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

And all this from a fascination as a youngster growing up in Coalisland with a game he will forever be associated with.

"I was only eight or nine and I walked past the snooker club, someone had opened the door and I saw these coloured balls whizzing around on a green cloth table," the 68-year-old recalled.

"I had no idea what the game was and it just fascinated me. I thought I would love to see what was going on so they let me in to watch the grown-ups play. I would hold the rest and if anyone needed it I would hand it to them. Eventually they let me stand on a lemonade box to take shots and that was my introduction into snooker."

Practising when he could, Taylor became adept at snooker and billiards. By the time he was 14, he was the best at both in his home town. Leaving school at 15, he moved to England when he was 17, won the junior British Billiards Championship the following year and turned snooker professional in 1972.

Slowly but surely, Taylor established himself in the game and reached his first World Championship final against Welshman Terry Griffiths in 1979.

Main man: Dennis Taylor is inducted into our Hall of Fame by Dame Mary Peters, snooker ace Joe Swail and Steve Parr, Managing Director of Parr Group.
Main man: Dennis Taylor is inducted into our Hall of Fame by Dame Mary Peters, snooker ace Joe Swail and Steve Parr, Managing Director of Parr Group.
A club full of heroes: Slaughtneil, the incredible gaelic club from Derry, won the Local Heroes award at year's night’s bash after sweeping all before them in county and Ulster competition during 2016. Receiving the trophy on behalf of the club is Chairman Sean McGuigan (centre).
Running away with it: top athletics official David Seaton was named the recipient of the Paddy Patterson Award, sponsored by the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, presented by Chair of the Forum,
In safe hands: Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern was named as the winner of the George Best Breakthrough Award, sponsored by Gym Co. The trophy was presented to his father Terry (centre), by Jim Conlon, Director of Gym Co and Northern Ireland goalkeeping legend Pat Jennings.
Sealed by a kiss: Ulster’s Director of Rugby Les Kiss presented Northern Ireland football boss Michael O’Neill with the Manager the Year award. Looking on is Breeda Toner, Financial Advisor with Active Financial Life.

"I played well that year and was favourite to win the final, but didn't do it. It was a bitter pill to swallow," said Taylor.

"I had to wait six years to play in another World Championship final."

It proved to be worth the wait. A few months previously, Taylor had won his first big tournament - the Grand Prix at the Hexagon - inspired by the memory of his mum Annie, who had died suddenly weeks before.

Next would come the most talked about World Championship decider ever.

"I played superbly throughout that tournament in 1985 but in the final when I went 8-0 down to Steve Davis, I don't think anybody gave me much hope. Throughout it all, though, I never gave up and by the end of day one I was only 9-7 down," he said.

"On the second day of the final it went to the final frame and the final black. Steve had a great opportunity to cut it in and I don't think anyone thought he would miss. The pressure was so intense. He overcompensated and hit it too thin.

"The one that was left for me was easier. I took ages on that shot. When the black went in it is hard to describe how I felt. I had spent 13 years trying to become World champion and suddenly had done it and the way I had done it was incredible. I was stamping the cue as well as putting it over my head. You just don't know how you will react in a situation like that.

"To this day people seem to remember that match more than any other. There is always someone who will say to me about that night.

"There was a great moment once when I was picking my son up from Manchester airport at around 5.30am. I'm stood half asleep at my car waiting for him and this fellow was getting his family in their car and he shouted my name. He had his glasses upside down, an imaginary cue over his head and he was wagging his finger at me. I thought if somebody is prepared to do that at half five in the morning, that will do for me.

"I don't think I realised how much it meant to people until the years passed by. Steve is fantastic about it. He says he will remember our match more than the six World titles he won. The two of us do the odd dinner and speak together and re-enact the final frame which is a bit of a mickey take. It is part of snooker history.

"The three best moments in my career were the World Championship, the Grand Prix for my first major win and the Masters when I beat Alex in the Benson and Hedges in front of 2,700 people at the Wembley Conference Centre.

"I was 8-5 down and went to the toilet. My good friend Trevor East had heard Alex's manager saying he was getting a dozen bottles of champagne to celebrate Alex winning his first tournament for two years.

"That was just the spur that I needed. I went back into the arena and was thinking Alex's manager was a bit ahead of himself and won the last four frames to win 9-8. The atmosphere was unbelievable that night. To win that final was very special."

Dennis retired from the professional scene in 2000, having played across four decades.

He added: "I like to think I went out in real style playing in the Nations Cup for Northern Ireland. We were playing Scotland and my last two televised matches were against Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

"I beat Stephen on the pink and then against John Higgins I broke off and he made his first ever maximum break, so it was a good way to go out.

"I've had a great time and now to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards is fantastic. To follow in the footsteps of so many sporting legends and great ambassadors for Northern Ireland is a wonderful honour."

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