Leighton's Martin O'Donnell takes heart after reaching first major snooker final

Martin O’Donnell says he feels at the top of his game after reaching the first major snooker final of his career.
Martin O'Donnell has enjoyed an excellent 2023/24 season. Photo: WST.Martin O'Donnell has enjoyed an excellent 2023/24 season. Photo: WST.
Martin O'Donnell has enjoyed an excellent 2023/24 season. Photo: WST.

The 37-year-old from Leighton Buzzard reached the final of the Welsh Open in February, beating current world champion Luca Brecel en route before ultimately losing out to Gary Wilson.

But O’Donnell took heart from the form which took him that far, and his recent displays as a whole on the World Snooker Tour.

He said:​ "It was a really good run to the final and to take out the world champion in the quarter-final was pleasing. I’d beaten him at the Scottish Open earlier in the season and it always gives you confidence, beating players like that.

"I’ve had some good wins this year against players like Mark Selby, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire, so it all helps build confidence and belief and I really feel like I belong out there.”

The final itself saw Wilson fly out of the blocks and take the first four frames, leaving O’Donnell with what would prove too much work to do to overcome the former World Championship semi-finalist.

He said: "The final was tough – I never really settled because Gary got off to such a great start and a lot of the damage was done early on.

"Perhaps a lack of experience in the final cost me but I never really recovered from the start which is a shame. It was a good learning experience and something I’ll take with me hopefully into my next final, whenever that may be.”

O’Donnell now says he's keen to maintain his form going into the upcoming World Championship qualifiers and beyond.

He added: "I’ve been on the tour for ten years or so and I’ve had five big quarter-finals now so to convert one of those and get to the final was good.

"I was starting to really kick on before Covid hit and got myself to number 32 in the world and reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, but the enforced break stopped me in my tracks and I dropped off the tour two years ago, but getting back on this season has seen me get the rewards for not giving up and putting in all the hard work over the years. I feel like I’m just getting started again.

"It’s the World Championships next which is the last event of the season which is a shame as I don’t really want the season to come to an end. The qualifiers start next month so I can’t wait to get back out there and start playing again, and hopefully this year I can make it all the way to the Crucible.”

*Martin O’Donnell is currently seeking sponsorship to assist him in his career. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling 07830 755844.