Monday, 18 February 2013

Maguire gets that winning feeling

Stephen Maguire's long wait for a major ranking title is finally over after winning the Welsh Open.

He went through the full spectrum of emotions before sealing a dramatic 9-8 victory against Stuart Bingham, giving him his first proper trophy for nearly five years ago since winning the China Open in 2008.

Maguire led this entertaining, high-quality match 2-0 and 4-2 but then lost five of the next six frames to trail 7-5.

But two frames adrift, struggling under pressure and being faced with some big questions, he came back fighting to force his way over the line.

The Scot has lost some big finals since his last triumph in Beijing and is quick to admit the longer the wait goes for a title, the harder it gets. The signs were certainly there that he had to win the match mentally as well as just physically.

This is Maguire's fifth ranking event and arguably means more to him than most.

The Scot says he has got sick and tired of hearing journalists talking about his trophyless spell, but it's fact that couldn't be ignored. Now, the monkey is finally off of his back.

We've got used to hearing the same old line. A player of Maguire's class is too good to have gone so long without a victory. Well, hes' finally got it and it hasn't come without hard work.

Maguire has been knocking on the door of a return to the winning enclosure for the past two years. More recently, he's been playing competitive matches and on the practice non-stop since the turn of the year and has rightly earned his reward.

He said himself after the match that nothing can replace that winning feeling and as he smashed his knuckles against the table seconds after sealing the deciding frame, the intensity of his celebration told the whole story.

Maguire has always been a fine promise. His breakthrough season in 2004 saw him win two ranking events. He was tipped from there to potentially go on to dominate the game. It hasn't quite happened and some say he's one of the real underachievers in the modern game. 

Maguire, though, has never been one to give up easily. He is an intense player, who has never been one for hiding his feelings in a match. He was really put through the ringer in Newport. This final will go down as a classic. The standard of scoring was superb and there were also plenty of twists and turns to keep us entertained.

Bingham more than played his part and in the end will feel as if he let his opponent off the hook.

Maguire did enough in the end and the scars from such a lengthy spell without a win will now begin to heal. He can focus his efforts now on winning more silverware. He is definitely capable.

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