Blackpool snooker ace James Cahill makes most of rare favourable draw to win at Northern Ireland Open

James Cahill will play Ryan Day in the second round at Milton Keynes tonightJames Cahill will play Ryan Day in the second round at Milton Keynes tonight
James Cahill will play Ryan Day in the second round at Milton Keynes tonight
Blackpool snooker star James Cahill reckons that finally facing an opponent who gave him a chance paved the way for his first round win at the Northern Ireland Open.
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The Marton giantkiller, who memorably stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of the World Championship last year, beat world No.45 Lü Haotian 4-1 behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.

The result came after Cahill had complained about a string of tough draws in ranking events, losing against four-time world champion John Higgins in the English Open last month, as well as world number one Judd Trump and O’Sullivan last season.

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Those encounters left the world number 77 slumped in his chair but Cahill says that playing a less clinical opponent helped haul him into round two.

“Today when I played Lu, it’s the first time I’ve had more than one chance,” said the 24-year-old. “They (my opponents) are clearing up normally, so it was a bit refreshing to have another chance.

“I actually felt better in the last few matches but I had a few good breaks to win from 1-0 down, so it’s just nice to win to be honest.

“When you’re winning it breeds winning. I might lose tomorrow or I might win – who knows? - and we could be back to square one. I’m just taking it each match as it comes.”

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Cahill constructed fluent breaks of 68, 64, 57 and 50 against Chinese player Lu and will meet Ryan Day in the second round tonight.

The Welshman shocked 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy 4-0 on Monday to reach the last 64.

Cahill reached the second round of September’s European Masters with a walkover after Elliot Slessor was forced to self-isolate, but the Blackpool ace has not won a match at a ranking event since last year’s Scottish Open, when he beat Sunny Akani before meeting O'Sullivan, who avenged that World Championship upset.

Cahill is well aware of the threat Day poses and admits he’ll have to up his game if he is to reach the last 32 of any event for the first time in almost two years.

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“He’s a good player – you don’t beat Shaun 4-0 unless you’re a great player,” Cahill added. “’It’s going to be another tough game and I’m going to have to play a bit better than I have today.”

Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport. Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+.