Snooker: Doherty eyes hat-trick in Dublin

Ken Doherty would love nothing better than to complete a hat-trick of major title successes in his own back yard.

Ken Doherty would love nothing better than to complete a hat-trick of major title successes in his own back yard.

Fresh from his wins in the Welsh Open and Thailand Masters, Doherty has returned to his native Dublin for the start of the Irish Masters.

The tournament begins today with the former world champion looking to improve on his recent record in the invitation event.

Three times in the last four years Doherty has failed to negotiate the first round of a competition, formerly backed by Benson and Hedges and held at the Goffs arena in County Kildare.

A ban on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies in Ireland has meant the 12-man field will now cue-up at the Citywest Hotel, joint sponsors of the tournament with the Irish Health Promotion Unit.

"It's going to be sad not going back to Goffs, especially for me where I have so many memories," says the provisional world number four.

"I used to be a steward there before I was fortunate to get a chance to play.

"But just like my recent title wins, that's in the past and I'm looking forward to a fresh start.

"I've been down to see the arena where we're going to be playing and it looks fantastic. There's seating for 1,300 so I hope everyone will come out and support the event.

"I'd love to win the Masters again but I've got a tough first match against Steve Davis and I'm not taking anything for granted."

Doherty captured the title by default in 1998. A runner-up to Ronnie O'Sullivan, the Ranelagh star was handed the trophy and £61,000 first prize after O'Sullivan was stripped of the victory spoils for failing a drugs test.

Doherty flew back from Bangkok last week after defeating seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry 9-3 in the final.

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