Aaron Hill and Ross Bulman are the future of Irish snooker – and having been offered a taste of the big time, both are hungry for more.
The teenage amateurs from Cork justified their invitation wild-card spots at the quickfire Shootout by reaching Saturday’s second round.
Former European Under-18 champion Hill, 17, beat Northern Irish teenager Robbie McGuigan 50-15 at Watford Colosseum on his TV debut.
And Bulman, a year older, then topped even that by knocking out former Shootout winner Michael Georgiou, 28-21, in a tense clash.
The format sees single-frame contests of a maximum of 10 minutes and a shot-clock dropping from 15 to just 10 seconds.
It's a long way from the traditional form of the game, but the pair handled the spotlight, pressure, and a packed crowd like old hands.
And the goals are simple. Get on the tour quickly in any way possible – and then one day follow Ken Doherty by winning the World Championship at the Crucible.
Hill said: “I would like to get on tour as soon as I can. I am trying every way, every path to do that, and have come close a few times, but I am only 17 so I have time.
“I have the European Championships Under-21s coming up next month and there is a tour spot for that. I have won the European Under-18s before, and I’ll defend that too.
“Growing up Ronnie O’Sullivan was my hero, he is a dream to watch. I have watched all the documentaries about his life and all that, he is the one I look up to in the sport.
It is also great having Ross Bulman, another really good young player and a good friend, from the same area back home. It means we can travel to tournaments together and share accommodation.
“I want to be world champion at the Crucible, that is my goal in snooker. Ken Doherty is obviously a legend of Irish snooker and he is always encouraging and giving good advice.
“Hopefully people are pleased to see a couple of young Irish prospects there looking to come through.
“This was the first time I have played in the Shootout… and the first time I have ever played on TV.
“I can’t put into words what a great buzz it was, and I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and sample it again.
“Knocking in centuries in amateur matches is all well and good, but there is nothing like playing out there in front of a packed crowd and on TV.
“It is a different sort of nerves but I thought I handled it well for a first time, and I want more of it.
“I want to be out there all the time in these venues and conditions, and I will keep trying to get onto the professional tour.
“I have basically got a free roll here, nothing to lose, see what it’s like and do what I can do best, prove to people how well I can play.
I haven’t read the rules much, it is very different to the usual format. But I figure if you keep potting the balls, then you’re going to win!
“I have watched it every year, of course, and it’s a dream to be here. Just to here in the room with all the pros is a bit surreal. I played in the World Championship qualifiers, that was the same.”
Bulman said: “It’s nice both of the Cork boys made it through today, a great day for us. I just knew I needed to get in first against Michael, so to get 24 ahead was good and then play a few safety shots.
“It is unbelievable, it is my first time here, and to be around it all is some buzz. I can’t wait for the next round.
“I hadn’t played on TV either. I did play Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of the UK Championship in the main arena, but that wasn’t shown on the main channel.
“I was unlucky not to make it onto tour last year at Q School, missing out by a frame. So I will go all out for the European Under 21s next month, then Q School again if I have to.
“I don’t know how I will feel if it is me against Aaron in the final of the European Under 21s for one tour card!
“It would be tough all right, a friend from the same county for a tour card - but I suppose that is what you have to do.”