A 'missed opportunity' for Wellingborough's O'Neill

Jamie O'NeillJamie O'Neill
Jamie O'Neill
Wounded Jamie O’Neill admits he missed a golden opportunity to secure a maiden ranking event quarter-final after throwing away a 3-1 lead against Ding Junhui at the Scottish Open.

The Wellingborough player was making his first-ever fourth-round appearance but was unable to hold on to a two-frame advantage as Ding, the world No.10, showed why he’s a 14-time ranking event winner at the Marshall Arena.

World No.92 O’Neill’s previous best run was to the third round of the 2014 China Open and he slammed his ‘rubbish’ inability to get over the line.

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The 34-year-old said: “It’s a tough one. I was 3-1 up, missed some chances to win 4-2 and I’m devastated. It would have been my first quarters, I needed a big run – it’s rubbish.

“It’s a missed opportunity but at the start of the week I might have taken the last 16. I’m wounded now, though, as I had chances to win. It’s a poor one to take and I’m so wounded.

“I just feel like I’ve played nowhere near where I can – I feel like it was a missed chance to get in the quarters. I could have turned up in the quarters and let it all out, but I missed a couple at 3-2 up.

“I’ve been putting the work in, but you just need to scrape a couple of wins on this tour and then the confidence comes.

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“You’ve just got to keep battling until you have a little run, confidence comes and you free up the cueing a bit. That’s why that would have been a massive match for me.

“It’s frustrating when you miss balls that you should never miss and they don’t feel like they do in practice. It’s frustrating when it doesn’t feel easy like it does on the practice table, but that’s the pressure of professional sport.”

Underdog O’Neill had beaten Kurt Maflin, Hossein Vafaei and 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy to navigate his way to the last 16 but was unable to hold his nerve against Chinese player Ding.

The Northamptonshire potter struck breaks of 75 and 62 to put himself on the brink but Ding, a three-time UK champion, made a clutch visit of 64 in the decider to book a quarter-final clash against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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A date with the Rocket would have been the reward for O’Neill but his run in Milton Keynes still marks his best ever finish at a ranking event.

He admits the last 16 is still nowhere good enough, however, and wants to roll back the years on the baize and start getting his hands on silverware.

“Everyone who plays in the tournament should be wanting to win it,” he added.

“I’ve always won tournaments as a junior, and amateur stuff, so that’s what I want to do. I’m cueing alright on the practice table, but it’s just hard to take it out there sometimes.

“I scored alright in that match but I know there’s loads more in there to come out.”

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