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  Sunday, 11 February, 2001, 00:58 GMT
O'Brien eyes final after ousting Harold
Fergal O'Brien
Fergal O'Brien won a five-hour marathon
Fergal O'Brien (Ire) 6-4 Dave Harold (Eng)
Frame scores: (O'Brien first) 119-0 (97 break) 21-116 (116) 62-52 82-52 (54) 85-28 61-36 21-65 29-68 (68) 49-71 68-56.

Fergal O'Brien fell over the winning line after a five-marathom semi-final against Dave Harold.

The Dubliner finally grinded out a 6-4 win to secure a place in the Benson & Hedges Masters final against Paul Hunter at Wembley.


The pressure was building and I could see it slipping away
Fergal O'Brien
"I'm relieved to have a crack at the final", he said after a tense "battle" and the longest match in this year's competition.

The match started in a lively fashion before slowing as the tension mounted.

O'Brien opened with a 97 break which Harold replied to in the second frame with a 116 break of his own.

Either side of the mid-session break O'Brien took what ultimately proved to be a decisive grip on the match winning four successive frames.

However Harold, who stunned John Parrott 6-5 in the quarter final on a re-spotted black after being 5-1, refused to lie down and fought back to 5-4 as O'Brien lost his way.

But in a tense finale on the final colours O'Brien finally won the single frame he needed.


I left myself with too much to do - it was a bridge too far
Dave Harold
After exchanging numerous safety shots O'Brien prevailed in a black ball finish to the tenth frame.

The Irishman admitted: "It was a big battle. The pressure was beginning to build towards the end and I could see it slipping away.

"I was fortunate to be 5-1 up after not really dominating the match but it's a great win for me," O'Brien concluded.

"I left myself with a little too much to do," said Harold. "It was a bridge too far.

With reference to his match with Parrott, Harold added: "You can do that kind of thing once but doing it again is too much to ask.

"Mind you I started to fancy it towards the end." And had it gone

Despite the turgid nature of the contest the crowd at the Wembley Conference Hall also "fancied" what they were watching.

The majority of the 1,300 crowd stayed until the bitter end at 0040 GMT on Sunday morning.

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Fergal O'Brien
"I'm just relieved to be able to have a crack at the final"
Benson & Hedges Masters
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See also:

10 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
10 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
09 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
09 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
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