Blackpool snooker ace James Cahill hopes a return to his happiest hunting ground will inspire him to take his career to a new level.
It was on York’s famous Barbican stage 12 months ago that the teenager sent shockwaves through the sport with his UK Championship exploits, reaching the last 16 with victories over Mark King, Andrew Higginson and, most famously, world number three Ding Junhui.
This year’s tournament starts today and Cahill, from Division Lane in Marton, is in first-round action on the opening night against Anthony McGill.
And the former Highfield School pupil can’t wait to return to the venue which kickstarted his career.
His exploits there helped him to secure a further two years on the professional World Tour and a deal with the management company of Django Fung, whose clients have included Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump.
And although the 19-year-old Cahill has struggled to make an impact on the major tournaments so far in 2015, he has gained a year’s invaluable experience in snooker’s big time.
Cahill told The Gazette: “I’ve been all over Europe this year, including Bulgaria, Germany and Portugal, and I’ve also been to China.
“You can feel like you are living out of suitcases sometimes, so it’s nice to come home.
I’ve changed cues this year and I’m hoping to move forward now. I’m feeling OK and practising hard, and I’m hoping to do even better at York than last year.”
His heroics 12 months ago saw Cahill’s world ranking shoot up from 100 to 76, though he has found it difficult to sustain that this year.
“The problem is that if you don’t build up enough ranking points to make the top 64, you basically start again from scratch the following season and you have to work your way up again.”
But he hopes the inspirational surroundings of the Barbican will help him do just that.
“I like York because it’s one of the bigger events and I can really get up for it,” he added. “Sometimes that isn’t easy when you are playing in front of one man and his dog but I thrive on the big occasions.
“You also know that you will be up against good and experienced players, so you have to be at your best. “
Cahill will certainly have to be in form to win his first ever encounter with 24-year-old Glaswegian McGill, who progressed a stage further than Cahill at last year’s tournament and was also a quarter-finalist in the World Championships this year.
James is grateful for the unstinting support of his proud mum, Maria, and of everyone at Stephen Hendry’s Snooker Club in Preston.