The former Hong Kong Open finalist is the new Oceania snooker champion having beaten Aaron Mahoney 6-5 in a tense final at the Onehunga Workingmen’s Club in Auckland.

O'Kane, is now set to be offered a place on the Tour and the latest indications are that he will take up the opportunity to travel to the UK to compete.

He climbed to No 18 in the world rankings during his hey-day. O'Kane was runner-up 1989 Hong Kong Open, losing 9-8 to Mike Hallett in the final, and reached the semi-finals of the 1995 Thailand Classic and the quarter-finals of the 1987 World Championship.

And the Kiwi is also the reigning IBSF Seniors champion having retained his crown in Bahrain last year thanks to victory over Joe Delaney.

O'Kane briefly retired from snooker but was soon unbuckling his cue case again. "There was a gap in my life without it," he said. "Perhaps I was looking towards other things to fill that gap and it didn't really work out.

"I rediscovered my love of the game and you can get your true results and play your best when you have that passion back again."

Twenty four players, divided into four groups, contested the Oceania Championship.

Mahoney, a 27-year-old Australian IT specialist, made the top break of the event with a 144 but narrowly missed out on the title.

Teenager Vinnie Calabrese, who has been tipped for stardom by Neil Robertson, reached the quarter-finals before losing to Mahoney.

Matt Bolton, a winner of the Oceania billiards title, lost in the last 16.




Wed 05/17/06, 8:45 am EST

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