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Judge daring to dream of Crucible return

Michael Judge is dreaming of returning to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for his first World Championship appearance in 11 years later this month.

The 2004 Grand Prix semi-finalist, who dropped off the tour in 2011, is one match from becoming the first amateur to make the World Championship proper.

History will be made as he faces James Cahill in the final qualifying round, with both players having amateur status at this point in their careers.

Judge only found out that he had a place in the qualifying event on Monday afternoon, after Zhang Jiankang pulled out. That allowed him to enter as a Q School top up and just two days later he overcame Peter Lines in a late-night thriller, winning 10-9 in a 3am finish.

Ireland’s Judge came through another final frame decider to beat world number 23 Xiao Guodong 10-9 on Sunday evening and would love one more Crucible outing.

It would be the fourth largest ever gap between appearances in the final stages of the World Championship, should he get there.

“It is great to have a crack at this. I was always hoping to have one more go, just to see how I got on and find out if I still had it. It seems like I am still doing alright, so I am just delighted to be back here,” he said.

“It would be the best achievement I have ever done. I’m playing part-time now. I squashed in a few hours of practice having not played in ten days. I have come over here to face the best players in the world.”

Cahill meanwhile secured a massive 10-7 win over Michael Holt on Sunday, which guaranteed him a Tour card, as well as his place in the final round of qualifying.

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