Phil Haigh ✍️
Adam Duffy surprised himself coming through Q School and back onto the main tour after almost giving up on snooker and only entering the event at the last minute.
The 33-year-old has twice been on the professional circuit before, although probably his greatest day came as an amateur when he beat Ding Junhui in the first round of the 2015 UK Championship.
He has been an amateur again since 2018 but he has not spent the last four years competing, in fact he pretty much quit the game after missing out on a return to the tour in July 2020.
Defeat in the Challenge Tour Play-Off final was too much for Duffy and he forgot about snooker, concentrating on bricklaying instead.
‘I lost in the final to Allan Taylor in the play-off and it did my head in because I literally gave it all for that,’ Duffy told Metro.co.uk. ‘I was going to do what I’m doing now and have two solid years, no work and see where I get.
‘So after that, I put my cue away for two years. I literally didn’t touch it for about a year and then had a knock and thought, “I feel alright.” But I work as well as playing. I’m a bricklayer and just playing snooker in between.
‘I wasn’t even going to enter this, I got sponsored literally two hours before the deadline, or else I wasn’t going in it. But the guy sponsored me so I thought I’d better practice. John Tomkins, business man from Chesterfield, what a generous man, paid my entry and I thought I better get my cue out. Unbelievable.’
Things will turn around again for Duffy, as he will now forget about bricklaying and concentrate entirely on his cueing as he gives snooker his all, something he felt like he didn’t in his previous stints on tour.
‘This has got to be two years solid now, see what I can do,’ he said. ‘I don’t think you can work Monday and play Ronnie on a Tuesday, it doesn’t work does it?
‘I believe I’ve got my opportunity now. I’ve told myself I’ve got two years on tour, I’ve got it so f***ing do summat about it. Don’t get half way through the season and think, “I wish I’d practiced more.” That is what’s bothered me in the past.
‘I was just treating it like a hobby and not a job. It’s so easy to do that. I’d just have a couple of hours before a match. It doesn’t work.
‘I had a word with my dad because I work with him, I’d say, “I’ll work then just have a week off before a tournament,” but you can’t do it. That week is not enough for me to beat the likes of the players who are playing all day every day, that’s just fact.’
With full focus on the game, Duffy is confident of success, saying: ‘I can get in the top 32, that’s how much I believe in myself.’
However, even with this return to professional status, a part of the Chesterfield man will miss the bricklaying as he re-embarks on the mental turmoil of life on tour.
‘I’ll be back to work on Monday, I need the money, but after that I’ll not be there,’ Duffy said after coming through Q School.
‘I love it, I do love it. It’s like a relief because this is so mentally draining and with work, you know what you’re doing. It’s a relief from the pressure of this game.
‘The mental pressure of this game is horrendous, horrible, it’s just disgusting, it really is. But we put ourselves through it, I’ll be back here again in two years if I have to.’
The snooker tour is indeed mentally draining, but having come through the gruelling slog of Q School, Duffy has shown he has got the strength of mind to deal with the battle.
Trying to enjoy the scrap, working out a game plan and attempting to take the pressure off are all useful tactics, as is something to help you sleep before the all-important final round.
‘I slept like a log! Two glasses of wine and I was out, bosh,’ Duffy said of the night before his final match. ‘It’s a long week!
‘If I’d have lost today I’d have been back in two days and I was just dreading it, absolutely dreading coming back. Stephen Hallworth was on the next table and I knew I’d be playing him in the final event. He lost and I thought, “He’s lost, I’m going to f***ing lose, what am I doing to myself?”
‘It’s absolutely horrible. You feel like you can’t settle, it’s so hard to play well. I had a century first game, but apart from that I think my highest break has been 45. You’re just doing what you can to try and win a frame. You’ve got to accept that it’s going to be like that.
‘I noticed that in my first game against Luke Pinches, it’s not all about going for breaks, just accept it’s going to be s**t, it’s going to be absolute s**t and just grind through it.
‘I’m proud. I was saying to my pal with me, “You know what, I’ve actually enjoyed this week.” Because I’ve just come and thought I’ll dog it out if needs be. If you come in with a game plan you’ve got half a chance of winning. Mentally you’re ready for it. Rather than just turning up and thinking, how’s that going to go?’
That final match was a 4-3 win over Duffy’s good pal Daniel Wells, a close enough friend that he would be attending the Welshman’s wedding just days after the game – if he is still invited.
‘It’ll be relief in a bit, at the minute I don’t really want to celebrate because I feel for Danny,’ Duffy said after victory.
‘I’m going to his wedding next week as well, f***ing hell, that’ll be a right laugh! I might not be invited now. I hope he gets on tour, because he’s such a good player.’
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