SnookerZone caught up with the 46-year-old Merseyside Copper, who returned to the World Billiards Tour from an 18-year absence in 2021.
He recently reached another final, the Scottish Open in Kirkcaldy in his continued rise back to big-time billiards…
Peter Sheehan has been around the block when it comes to competing with the best in the business, and winning, but says he is looking forward to pitting his wits again with some of the Indian stars of the game such as the multiple champions such as Pankaj Advani and co on the Indian tour of the World Billiards.
Sheehan is lucky enough to share a unit with pro snooker player Andrew Higginson in Widnes, Cheshire, which is a great facility and fits in with his shifts at work.
He’s also quite handy at snooker too, with a high break of 137.
According to Sheehan, he was lucky enough in his early teens to have a snooker coach, Jack Stephens, who encouraged the youngsters to try a wide variety of cue sports other than snooker, and got them playing billiards.
Sheehan got hooked, and added: “I took to it really well, and at 15, I won the town billiards championship.
I got to the final of the British U19s and won numerous Merseyside and North-West titles (youngest ever winner) and turned pro around 1996. I used to practice snooker with John Parrot (1991 World Champion ) who used to come to the club.
When he joined Merseyside Police, his career ended, as the money dried up in billiards.
18 years on, and at the start of the 2020 first lockdown, Sheehan had conversations with people and took the plunge to go again into billiards in 2021.
“Peter Gilchrist is my hero,” said Sheehan, and to get to the semi-finals of the Welsh Open, he beat his hero Gilchrist over 90 mins in the last 16.
He added: “A month later, I managed to beat Peter again in the semi of the British Open in Carlisle, coming from behind to run out with a 241 unfinished break. I lost to Dave Causier who made a 619 against me in the final and he was outstanding.”
Sheehan said he is gaining confidence all the time and has a target of reaching the top 8, currently 13 on the ranking list.
Said Sheehan:”The Irish Open and World Matchplay in April promises to be a great event and I’m hoping to do well again. I had low expectations at the start of the season, but my recent results give me confidence in my ability to compete at the top end of the game.”
Learn the fundamentals before trying the top of the table…
In snooker, the buzz of potting balls and making big breaks gives players lots of satisfaction, but in billiards, the buzz of dominating the “top of the table” is the same.
Sheehan adds: “I’m quite a fast player and I like to think I try to play the game the right way in an entertaining style.”
He has some key advice for people who want to start learning billiards. And really, you should!
“My advice would be to learn red ball play first before trying top of the table. Learn the fundamentals first as it literally takes years to learn top of the table. As you progress, slowly start having a dabble with top and watch as many YouTube videos such as Russell or Gilchrist and give it a go.”
He also agrees that billiards will massively improve a player’s snooker, and added: “With billiards, you develop a wonderful touch and the ability to play slow shots with side whereas snooker is mainly down the middle. The half-ball contact in billiards is key, and it’s surprising how many snooker players can’t see it.
A joint snooker/billiards event?
Interestingly, Sheehan believes there should/could be a joint snooker/billiards event involving the top players from both codes competing against each other.
“I know this has been spoken about with maybe Shaun Murphy involved.”
He added: “I believe Shaun Murphy has played a bit and I’m told that Ronnie O’Sullivan has had a go and knows the half ball. His cue action and touch is so good he would pick it up quickly, I think.”
It would certainly be interesting to watch the top snooker players in the world having a go at some of the best billiard players in the business.
Maybe it would separate the men from the boys on who knows their postman’s knock from their in-off jennys…
The harsh lesson of “Delhi Belly” in 1997 when on tour…
Finally, Sheehan recounts an embarrassing moment, and one for traveling snooker and billiard players to heed!
“My first trip to India around 1997, I played Roxton Chapman, I think. We had been there 3 days to acclimatize, and I stupidly had eaten some street food the night before… Big mistake. During my match, I felt this rumbling in my stomach and had to make a hasty exit to use the facilities…. my first introduction to Delhi belly. Not a nice experience.”
We wish Peter Sheehan well on the Billiard Tour and hope to interview some more billiard stars soon!
Watch: Sheehan and top star David Causier in action – below…