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Ken Doherty

Ken Doherty Irish snooker player

Irish snooker player
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Irish snooker player
Is Cue sports player Snooker player
From Ireland
Type Sports
Gender male
Birth 17 September 1969, Dublin
Age: 50 years
Star sign VirgoVirgo
The details

Ken Doherty (born 17 September 1969) is an Irish professional snooker player and radio presenter. He is one of only two players to have been world amateur (1989) and world professional champion (1997). He was also World Under-21 champion in 1989. A prolific break-builder, Doherty has compiled more than 300 century breaks in professional competition.


After two semi-finals in the 1991/92 season (his second as a professional), Doherty reached the final of the 1992 Grand Prix, narrowly losing 10–9 to Jimmy White. In the same event a year later, he lost 6–9 to Peter Ebdon. His first ranking title was the 1993 Welsh Open, enough to take him into the top 16 in the world, where he remained until the 2007/08 season. In the 1994 World Championship he reached the quarter-finals, his only run past the first round before 1997.

Doherty became only the third player from outside the United Kingdom (after Australian Horace Lindrum in 1952 and Canadian Cliff Thorburn in 1980) to win the World Championship when he beat Stephen Hendry 18–12 in the 1997 final. Ken also reached the World Championship final in 1998 (losing to John Higgins) and in 2003, losing narrowly to Mark Williams. The latter run was noted for some outstanding comebacks, including final-frame wins over Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy, a 13–8 win over John Higgins in a match where Doherty raced ahead 10–0 but Higgins fought back to 10–7, and a semi-final fightback from 9–15 to beat Paul Hunter 17–16. In that championship he played more frames than anyone before or since. In the final, Williams led 11–4 but Doherty fought back to 12–12 and 16–16. In frame 33, Doherty missed the 2nd to final red with a clearance there for the taking. Williams won that crucial frame and the next to prevail 18–16.

He is one of the few players to win back-to-back ranking events – the Welsh Open and Thailand Masters in 2001, also reaching the final of the following Regal Scottish Open.

He narrowly failed to achieve a maximum break when he missed a routine final black off its spot in the 15th frame of the 2000 Benson & Hedges Masters final against Matthew Stevens, which he eventually lost 10–8. This one pot would have seen him win an £80,000 sports car. However, at 140 he did at least have the consolation of the £19,000 highest break prize.

In the 2005 World Championship, Doherty beat Barry Pinches in the first round 10–5, winning the last 8 frames, but was knocked out in the second round by Alan McManus 13–11.

Following an average start to the 2005/06 season, Doherty won the Malta Cup in February 2006, beating John Higgins in the final. Doherty had trailed 8–5 at one stage but managed a stirring comeback, winning four frames in a row. Doherty called the victory, which bridged a five-year gap, his "most important tournament win since the World Championship".

In the 2006 World Championship, Doherty started brightly winning his first match and defeated Barry Hawkins 10–1 and then he beat Matthew Stevens 13–8, playing superbly to win the last 5 frames. He was favourite in his quarter-final match against Marco Fu but lost 13–10. It was 8–8 as the final session started, but Doherty struggled despite winning a frame in which he required 3 snookers. Although he led 7–6, 8–7, 9–8 and 10–9, he could never quite take a decisive advantage to win the match. Doherty admitted afterwards that he "blew it"" but that he still had "a couple more years" to come back and win the title. He ended the 2005/06 season as the world Number 2, his highest ranking ever.

He made a solid start to the 2006/07 snooker season by reaching the quarter-final at what is the closest thing to a home tournament for him, the Northern Ireland Trophy at Belfast's Waterfront Hall. He followed this up with a last-16 defeats at the Grand Prix in Aberdeen and the UK Championship in York. He reached the quarter-finals of the next two tournaments, the Masters and the Malta Cup. He lost in the first round of the World Championship and, although clearly disappointed, the Dubliner vowed to continue. He was provisional world Number 1 for most of 2006/07 but finished the season at Number 4.

In October 2006, he won the Irish Professional Snooker Championships for a second time (having previously captured the title in 1993), an invitational event, beating Michael Judge 9–4 in the final. A year later he defended his title with a resounding 9–2 victory over Fergal O'Brien. He followed this up a week later by becoming the first Irishman to win the Pot Black invitational tournament, beating Shaun Murphy 76–31 in the one-frame final.

Doherty did not start the 2007–08 season well, winning only one match during the first four ranking tournaments. However, he did reach the semi-finals of the Masters with victories over Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy, before losing to eventual champion Mark Selby. He then reached the final of the Malta Cup for a record fifth time, defeating John Higgins in the semi-finals, before losing to Murphy in the final. Unfortunately for Doherty, neither of these events are ranking events, meaning his performances did nothing to keep him in the Top 16 for 2008/09. Defeat to Liang Wenbo in the first round of the World Championship ensured that he dropped out of the Top 16 after 15 years, and he started the new season 32nd on the provisional (one-year) list. A run of qualifying defeats saw him drop as low as 38th before the UK Championship.

Doherty's poor run of form continued during the 2008–09 season during which he won only two matches. For the first time since 1993, he failed to qualify for the World Championship having been beaten in the final qualifying round by Gerard Greene.

Doherty's form saw an upturn in the 2009/2010 season with a rise back into the top 32 (at 30) in the rankings up from 44th. This is thanks to a quarter final appearance in the 2009 Shanghai Masters, and a last 16 appearance in the 2009 Grand Prix. Doherty defeated 6 times World Championship finalist Jimmy White 10–3, and two time Crucible semi-finalist Joe Swail 10–1 to mark his return to the World Championships for the first time since 2008. In an amusing moment, Doherty got down on his knees and kissed the carpet upon his return to the venue. However, he lost his first round match 10–4 to reigning Masters champion Mark Selby.

The 2010/2011 season proved to be a mixed campaign for Doherty, who made the last 32 of the 2010 World Open, yet missed out on qualifying for the 2011 German Masters, 2011 Welsh Open (snooker) and crucially, blowing a 6–3, losing 10–6 Jimmy Robertson in the final stage of qualifying for the 2011 World Snooker Championship, meaning he has only reached The Crucible in 1 of his last 3 attempts.

Doherty had an excellent start to the 2011/2012 season as he qualified for the Australian Goldfields Open, where he reached his first ranking event semi-final since 2006. He beat Mark Selby 5–3 in the quarter-finals, sealing the match with a clearance which he described as the best of his career. Doherty also stated that he almost quit the game in 2009 following his downturn in form which saw him drop to world number 55. He couldn't replicate his form in the last 4, however, as he was beaten 2–6 by Mark Williams. In the remainder of the season Doherty qualified for the German Masters and the Welsh Open, but was defeated in the first round to Williams and Mark Allen respectively, without picking up a frame. He also reached the final of the non-ranking Lucan Racing Classic, losing 2–5 to Fergal O'Brien.

He was ranked 32nd in the world going into the World Championship qualifiers, where he faced Anthony Hamilton. The match went into a deciding frame with Doherty 40 points behind, but he profited from a Hamilton error to produce a match-winning clearance to win 10–9 and earn a first round match against Neil Robertson. He lost 4–10 and finished the season ranked world number 35.

Doherty began the 2012/2013 season by losing 4–5 to Stuart Bingham in the second round of the Wuxi Classic and 3–5 to Martin Gould in the first round of the Australian Goldfields Open. He finally compiled the first official 147 break of his career at the minor-ranking 2012 Paul Hunter Classic in Germany during a first round win against Julian Treiber. He went on to reach the quarter-finals of the event, losing 0–4 to Mark Selby. Doherty was defeated in qualifying for the Shanghai Masters and the UK Championship and failed to advance beyond the wildcard round of the International Championship. At the fifth European Tour Event, the Scottish Open, he saw off the likes of Luca Brecel and Ryan Day to reach the semi-finals where he lost 2–4 against Ding Junhui. Doherty was eliminated in the first round of the German Masters by Peter Lines, but then had his best run of the season at the Welsh Open. He beat four-time world champion John Higgins 4–1 and Tom Ford 4–3 to make it through to the quarter-finals. He led Stuart Bingham 2–0, but a series of missed pots saw Doherty lose his confidence and he went on to lose 3–5. His aforementioned run to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open helped him finish 16th on the PTC Order of Merit to qualify as one of the top 26 players for the Finals, but he lost 2–4 to Kurt Maflin in the first round. Doherty almost pulled off one of his trademark comebacks against Matthew Selt in the final round of World Championship qualifying as from 4–9 down he levelled at 9–9, but lost the deciding frame. The result meant that this was the first season where Doherty had not featured in any of snooker's Triple Crown events. Doherty increased his ranking by eight spots during the season to finish it ranked world number 27.

Doherty qualified for all but two of the ranking events in the 2013/2014 season, but couldn't advance beyond the second round in any of them. In April, he qualified for the World Championship after a 10–5 win against Dechawat Poomjaeng in the final qualifying round. Doherty was the oldest player in the draw in his 19th Crucible appearance and after trailing Stuart Bingham 5–4 in the opening session of their first round match, Doherty produced his best snooker to take all six frames in the next session and win a match at the Crucible for the first time since 2006. He then lost 13–8 to Alan McManus, the second oldest player in the event.

Doherty defeated three players to qualify for the 2014 Shanghai Masters and met Mark Selby in the first round after coming through a wildcard round in China, losing 5–2. The only other tournament Doherty could advance to the last 32 in this season was the UK Championship by overcoming Mitchell Mann and Michael White, but he was beaten 6–1 by Ricky Walden. He was knocked out of the semi-finals of the World Seniors Championship by Fergal O'Brien. He reached the final round of World Championship qualifying following wins over Reanne Evans and Lee Walker, and was thrashed 10–3 by Mark Davis. Doherty was placed 45th in the world rankings at the end of the season, the lowest he had been since 1991.

A 6–0 thrashing at the hands of Peter Ebdon ended Doherty's International Championship at the first round stage and he lost 6–3 to Mark Davis in the second round of the UK Championship, having whitewashed Tony Drago 6–0 in the opener. His best runs of the season were a pair of last 32 exits at the German Masters and Welsh Open, 5–1 to Stephen Maguire and 4–2 to Joe Perry respectively. His end of season ranking of 57 is the lowest of his 26-year professional career.

Playing style

Despite being most renowned as an intelligent tactician, he is a heavy scorer when in around the balls at close quarters. This relatively cautious approach has led to the nickname "Crafty Ken".

Doherty's early career had begun with practice in Jason's of Ranelagh, Dublin, where he used to play handicap snooker tournaments on Saturday mornings before moving on to national level. This club closed in 2006 and he now practises in a Dublin hotel. In his first national event, an U-16 ranking tournament, Doherty lost in the final but would come back a month later and beat the man who had beaten him in the Irish U-16 National Championships.

Doherty has played his entire career with a warped cue randomly selected from the cue rack in his local snooker club, Jason's. Doherty humorously revealed that the club manager originally wanted £5 for it but Doherty haggled him down to £2. Ken Doherty explains, "It's warped. I must be one of the few professionals playing with a warped cue, but I wouldn't dream of changing it. I have got used to holding it in a certain way, with my eye trained on a piece of grain."

Media work

Doherty has started working on TV coverage on snooker matches with the BBC snooker coverage team.

He became a regular commentator for the BBC starting with the 2009 Masters Tournament, following the sidelining of veteran expert Clive Everton.

Doherty guested as a presenter on the Morning Show on East Coast FM, he presents a sports programme on Sunshine 106.8FM on Saturday mornings, Ken has also presented UEFA Europa league TV coverage on 3e.

Personal life

Doherty resides in Rathgar and is married to Sarah, who is Australian. Their first child, a son named Christian, was born in 2007.

Doherty is a Manchester United fan and he paraded his trophy at Old Trafford in front of 55,000 spectators following his World Championship triumph. It is also said that Ken is a follower of Barnsley after attending Barnsley's pre-season friendly against Manchester City in 2009. The stadium announcer was heard saying at half time that there was a celebrity fan sitting in the upper East Stand at Oakwell and later revealed that it was Ken.

Doherty was nearly blinded in 2002 in a bathroom accident; after slipping, he struck an ornament, which narrowly missed his left eye. However, the distinctive scar on his right cheek dates back to his seventh birthday, when he fell off a shed roof on to a metal dustbin.

Doherty made a 147 break in a public exhibition in Ireland, in 2002. He made light of his prize on television shortly afterwards, which was allegedly €300, a BMX bicycle and a toy Ferrari car.

In May 2007, Doherty appeared on RTÉ's spoof show Anonymous, heavily disguised as a priest. Ostensibly he was a beginner at snooker and received some tips from Alex Higgins, who was initially fooled by the make-up and Doherty's hopeless play. However, as "Fr Donoghue" began to clear the table, Higgins' suspicions were aroused and Doherty was eventually rumbled. Still, Doherty's disguise was enough to fool his mother and wife.

Doherty currently represents an Irish poker site, appearing on radio commercials, and regularly playing in tournaments, where the players on the site receive a bonus for knocking him out.

Doherty in partnership with Sean Francis O'Donoghue and Karl Leon Paul, set up an online Cue Sports equipment marketing company.

Performance and rankings timeline

Tournament 1990/
Ranking UR 51 21 11 7 9 7 3 4 7 7 4 5 6 7 11 2 4 18 44 30 29 35 27 33 45 57
Ranking tournaments
Riga Masters Tournament Not Held MR 3R
Indian Open Tournament Not Held 1R 1R NH LQ
World Open LQ 2R F F 3R 3R 3R 2R 2R QF QF 2R 2R SF 2R 2R 2R RR LQ 2R 1R LQ LQ 2R Not Held LQ
Paul Hunter Classic Tournament Not Held Pro-am Event Minor-Ranking Event A
Shanghai Masters Tournament Not Held 1R LQ QF 1R LQ LQ LQ 1R LQ LQ
European Masters 3R LQ 1R 2R QF 2R SF Tournament Not Held SF 2R 1R 2R W QF NR Tournament Not Held LQ
English Open Tournament Not Held 1R
International Championship Tournament Not Held WR LQ LQ 1R 1R
Northern Ireland Open Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held 2R
UK Championship LQ LQ 2R 3R F QF SF 3R 3R 5R 6R F F 2R 2R QF 3R 1R 1R LQ 1R LQ LQ 1R 3R 2R 1R
Scottish Open Not Held SF 2R 3R 1R 2R QF SF 5R F 2R SF SF Tournament Not Held MR Not Held 1R
German Masters Tournament Not Held F 1R SF NR Tournament Not Held LQ 1R 1R 1R LQ 1R LQ
World Grand Prix Tournament Not Held NR DNQ
Welsh Open NH 2R W 3R 1R 2R 3R 2R 1R 3R W F QF 3R QF 3R 3R 3R LQ LQ LQ 1R QF 2R 2R 3R
Gibraltar Open Tournament Not Held MR
Players Championship Grand Final Tournament Not Held DNQ DNQ 1R DNQ DNQ DNQ
China Open Tournament Not Held NR QF LQ 2R QF Not Held SF SF QF 2R LQ LQ LQ LQ 1R 1R 1R LQ
World Championship 1R LQ LQ QF 1R 2R W F QF 2R QF QF F 1R 2R QF 1R 1R LQ 1R LQ 1R LQ 2R LQ LQ
Ranking & variant format tournaments
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held Variant Format Event
Non-ranking tournaments
The Masters LQ 1R 1R QF 1R 1R SF SF F F QF 1R SF QF 1R 1R QF SF LQ LQ A A A A A A A
Championship League Tournament Not Held 2R RR A A A A A A A A
Variant format tournaments
Six-red World Championship Tournament Not Held 2R 2R RR NH 1R 1R 1R 1R
Former ranking tournaments
Classic QF 3R Tournament Not Held
Strachan Open NH SF MR NR Tournament Not Held
Dubai Classic 1R 2R 2R QF QF 1R SF Tournament Not Held
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event W NR Tournament Not Held
Thailand Masters LQ 2R 2R 2R 2R F 2R SF QF SF W QF NR Not Held NR Tournament Not Held
British Open 1R SF QF 3R 2R 3R 1R SF 2R 5R 2R 3R 2R 2R 3R Tournament Not Held
Irish Masters Non-Ranking Event 1R SF 2R NH NR Tournament Not Held
Northern Ireland Trophy Tournament Not Held NR QF 3R 2R Tournament Not Held
Bahrain Championship Tournament Not held 1R Tournament Not held
Wuxi Classic Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 2R 1R 1R Not Held
Australian Goldfields Open Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Tournament Not Held SF 1R 1R LQ LQ NH
Former non-ranking tournaments
German Masters Tournament Not Held Ranking Event SF Tournament Not Held Ranking Event
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held A SF QF W F R RR Tournament Not Held
Champions Cup Tournament Not Held 1R SF QF SF SF RR RR SF Tournament Not Held
Scottish Masters A A A W W QF QF QF 1R QF SF QF 1R Tournament Not Held
Northern Ireland Trophy Tournament Not Held 1R Ranking Event Tournament Not Held
Irish Masters QF F QF 1R QF SF 1R F QF 1R 1R SF Ranking Event NH QF Tournament Not Held
European Open Ranking Event Tournament Not Held Ranking Event F Tournament Not Held R
Premier League A A A A F W SF W RR A A A A A A A RR A A A A A A Tournament Not Held
World Seniors Championship NH A Tournament Not Held QF A A A SF 1R NH
Former variant format tournaments
Snooker Shoot-Out 4R Tournament Not Held 3R 2R 1R 1R 1R 1R RV
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals
SF lost in the semi–finals F lost in the final W won the tournament
DNQ did not qualify for the tournament A did not participate in the tournament WD withdrew from the tournament
DQ disqualified from the tournament
NH / Not Held event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Event event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Event event is/was a ranking event.
RV / Ranking & Variant Format Event means an event is/was a ranking & variant format event.
MR / Minor-Ranking Event means an event is/was a minor-ranking event.
PA / Pro-am Event means an event is/was a pro-am event.
VF / Variant Format Event means an event is/was a variant format event.

Career finals

Ranking event finals: 17 (6 titles, 11 runners-up)

World Championship (1–2)
UK Championship (0–3)
Other (5–6)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 1992 Grand Prix England White, JimmyJimmy White 9–10
Winner 1. 1993 Welsh Open Scotland McManus, AlanAlan McManus 9–7
Runner-up 2. 1993 Grand Prix (2) England Ebdon, PeterPeter Ebdon 6–9
Runner-up 3. 1994 UK Championship Scotland Hendry, StephenStephen Hendry 5–10
Runner-up 4. 1995 German Open Scotland Higgins, JohnJohn Higgins 3–9
Runner-up 5. 1996 Thailand Open Scotland McManus, AlanAlan McManus 8–9
Winner 2. 1997 World Snooker Championship Scotland Hendry, StephenStephen Hendry 18–12
Runner-up 6. 1998 World Snooker Championship Scotland Higgins, JohnJohn Higgins 12–18
Winner 3. 2000 Malta Grand Prix Wales Williams, MarkMark Williams 9–3
Winner 4. 2001 Welsh Open (2) England Hunter, PaulPaul Hunter 9–2
Winner 5. 2001 Thailand Masters Scotland Hendry, StephenStephen Hendry 9–3
Runner-up 7. 2001 Scottish Open England Ebdon, PeterPeter Ebdon 7–9
Runner-up 8. 2001 UK Championship (2) England O'Sullivan, RonnieRonnie O'Sullivan 1–10
Runner-up 9. 2002 Welsh Open England Hunter, PaulPaul Hunter 7–9
Runner-up 10. 2002 UK Championship (3) Wales Williams, MarkMark Williams 9–10
Runner-up 11. 2003 World Snooker Championship (2) Wales Williams, MarkMark Williams 16–18
Winner 6. 2006 Malta Cup Scotland Higgins, JohnJohn Higgins 9–8

Non-ranking wins: (16)

  • Benson & Hedges Satellite Championship – 1991
  • Pontins Professional – 1993, 1994, 1996
  • Scottish Masters −1993, 1994
  • European League – 1996
  • Malta Grand Prix – 1997
  • Irish Masters – 1998
  • Premier League Snooker – 1998
  • Irish Professional Championships – 1993, 2006, 2007
  • Euro-Asia Masters Challenge, Leg 2 – 2003
  • Pot Black – 2007
  • Irish Classic – 2008

Other format wins: (1)

  • Pro Challenge Series – Event 2 (six-red format): 2009

Amateur wins

  • IBSF World Amateur Championship: 1989
  • IBSF World Under 21 Championship: 1989

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