Shaun Murphy feels the time is right for the Republic of Ireland to join Northern Ireland in staging a major professional snooker event.
Murphy lives in Dublin and believes Irish eyes will be smiling if there is a similar tournament staged across the border.
“It’s wonderful to be back in Belfast,” said Murphy on WST. “It’s one of my favourite stops, and I think it is one of everyone’s favourite stops on the tour of all the places we go.
“It’s obviously very near for me. I only live two hours down the road in Dublin, but this island, the island of Ireland, is a bit of a sporting Mecca.
“The success of this event only highlights for me the shame that we don’t have a professional event in the Republic of Ireland.
“And maybe whoever is in charge of those decisions, whether it is WST or maybe a broadcaster in the Republic, I don’t know, but it would be great to see because when we go out for a stroll around Belfast, snooker is alive and well here.”
Ireland last staged a ranking event when Neil Robertson defeated Judd Trump 4-1 in the final of the Alex Higgins International Trophy in Killarney 12 years ago.
The Irish Masters ran between 1978 and 2007 with Ronnie O’Sullivan completing a 9-1 final win over Barry Hawkins in the last staging of the tournament in Kilkenny.
Goffs in County Kildare famously hosted the tournament for 23 years until 2000 with John Spencer, Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White among the storied list of former champions and has also recently held the Irish Masters on the seniors circuit.
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“As someone who lives on the island, I can promise you snooker is very popular here,” said Murphy, who meets Chris Wakelin on Thursday afternoon for a quarter-final place.
“It would be great to see the Republic hosting a professional event as well.”
Stream top snooker action, including the Northern Ireland Open, live on discovery+, the Eurosport app and at eurosport.com