Ronnie OSullivan backtracks after very bored and very flat Northern Ireland Open digs

Saturday Kitchen: Ronnie O'Sullivan discusses his fish diet

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Ronnie O’Sullivan has spoken in more detail about the atmosphere at the Northern Ireland Open this week after drawing criticism from fans for his disparaging remarks about the ambience at the Waterfront Hall earlier this week. The Englishman said he was “very bored” on Monday as he played and beat Andy Hicks, complaining about the “flat” atmosphere at the venue.

The Rocket won comfortably against Hicks, but the headline from the tie came from the victor’s complaints after the final ball had been potted.

“I kind of struggled with the table and I struggled with the atmosphere,” he had said. “There was really no atmosphere out there.

“I’m playing alright, so normally I can generate the atmosphere but, I don’t know… it felt like years ago, every time we played a tournament, every match felt like a big night, like a Champions League night, whereas out there, it was poor… it was hard.”

“It was very flat out there. I was very bored out there,” he added.

While fellow professional Alan McManus said he agreed with the comments, defending champion Judd Trump was full of praise for the crowd and the venue.

“The passion of the fans here, you can just feel it,” he said. “That rubs off on me and any support like that really gives me that extra incentive to do well and entertain.

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“The atmosphere here is in the top three of all the events that we play in.

“Especially when you get down to that one table set-up, whether that’s against Ronnie or whoever else. It’s amazing in that arena, especially when it’s full.”

After drawing criticism for his comments, O’Sullivan was quick to clarify what he had meant after beating Alfie Burden in the second round.

He made it clear that he had been speaking about the venue setup itself, rather than aiming a jab at the fans.

“Obviously when I came here last time I said the atmosphere was flat,” he told Eurosport.

“It’s just that the setup out there means you can’t get a good atmosphere because there’s no one sitting down the sides, so you feel like you’re playing to an empty auditorium.

“So when I said it was a flat atmosphere it’s because you feel like you’re actually not playing to anyone, you can’t see a crowd.

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“The way it was put across it looked like I was saying the fans are not… it’s not up to the fans, it’s the auditorium [which] wasn’t set up right and that’s no fault of the fans or anybody.

“When you’ve got fans down the side they gee you up, keep you going and it does create a different atmosphere so I’d just like to put that straight because obviously every snooker fan is like family to me so I’d never criticise any snooker fan.”

And, for good measure, he gushed about the supporters at this event being some of the best around.

“When I’ve had my downs they’ve always carried me through so I will never ever forget that and I never take that for granted,” O’Sullivan added.

“They mean so much to me. So yeah, it was never a slight at the crowd, it was more that I think the venue, the setup, doesn’t allow there to be a very good atmosphere.

“It’s difficult to play under those circumstances, that’s what I was trying to say.”

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