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Shaun Murphy hits out at “irritating” Ronnie O’Sullivan comments

Jamie Shaw in UK Championship

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Murphy responded angrily to O’Sullivan’s remarks (Imaginechina Limited/Alamy Stock Photo)

Shaun Murphy has issued a scathing response to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s remarks at the UK Championship, accusing the seven-time World Champion of not doing enough to promote the sport.

O’Sullivan had admitted during a live BBC post-match interview in York that he “didn’t enjoy playing snooker” and that the sport was “insignificant”.

Murphy was present alongside Ken Doherty in the BBC studio and directly challenged O’Sullivan on the comments, interjecting: “If you don’t like it as much as you say you don’t, why do you keep coming?”

O’Sullivan then responded: “Because it is something to do. When I had the year out [in 2012-13], I got bored working on the pig farm.'”

Murphy doubled down on his stance in his post-match press conference after edging out David Gilbert 6-5 in the Last 32 of the prestigious Triple Crown event.

The 2008 UK Champion offered: “There are lots of players on tour that say things currently about how little this game means to them, how much they don’t like it, that they don’t play for fun anymore. It means absolutely everything to me.

“It is very frustrating, but he’s [O’Sullivan] not on his own as a player that talks about how little the game means to them, and it’s just one of the things they do with their life and they have got other things and other interests, the game means so little to them.

“For a few that is even true, but for players like myself…I don’t have the CV of O’Sullivan, I don’t have what I assume must be an incredible amount of wealth.

“He comes from an incredibly wealthy background and grew up in incredible wealth. Most of the tour don’t come from that world.

“It’s okay for him and people like him, that have cabinet after cabinet of trophies, to say how little the game means to them, but for the rest of us it means an awful lot because it not only feeds our life and looks after us today.

“But I am only 40 and I remember the village I grew up in and I know the life I would have had but for this game that saved me from a life of complete anonymity and I will never ever forget that.”

Murphy has had a longstanding rivalry with ‘The Rocket’ both on and off the table, with the pair having exchanged words over a number of issues within the sport over the past two decades.

Murphy believes O’Sullivan, who has amassed more than £12 million in career prize money, is not making use of his global profile to extend the reach of the sport and also questioned Judd Trump’s willingness to get directly involved in decision making.

“It is extremely irritating,” he added. “Ronnie in particular has one of the biggest platforms in the world. I just wish he would use it to help make the game better.

“It does sometimes feel that most of the tour are pulling in a similar direction and others – and he’s not on his own – are just out for themselves.

“I attend every players’ meeting, it’s a game that I am passionate about and I don’t just criticise from the sidelines. I am actually involved getting my hands dirty and trying to make the game better than when I turned pro.

‘There are players’ meetings, players’ online ‘coffee mornings’, outreach programmes the WPBSA have in place I attend to try and make the game better. And it is through discussions with players that the change of lower-ranked players not walking into super-heroes in round one has come.

“Judd [Trump] may have had his own meetings with WST. He is such a marquee player he could demand a meeting with the CEO or whoever he wanted. But he is not on his own of players who sit on the side and moan. I’m sure every sport is like it, but snooker must be one of the worst for it.

‘The apathy on tour is disgusting, the lack of desire to actually want to get involved and make positive change for this game.

“But for most of us we come from a very working-class background, that side of the street. This game has taken us out of probably a life in the job centre or on the dole that most of us would have been collecting every fortnight.

“So to not get involved properly and try and make the game better is pretty poor.”

Seven-time UK Champion O’Sullivan whitewashed Zhou Yuelong 6-0 on Wednesday to book his place in the Quarter-Finals and was tight-lipped when Murphy’s comments were put to him.

“See that water just rolling off my back? I won’t be replying,” said O’Sullivan.

“I don’t read newspapers, I’m not interested in what anybody’s got to say about me. Absolutely vacated a long time ago.

“I have no opinion. I’m really happy, I enjoy what I do. I don’t know what answer to give you. I’m sorry – I’m lost for words.

“If people want to choose to come and watch me play then great, if they don’t want to choose to come and watch me play then that’s also great.

“Better that they come and watch you I suppose, then not coming to watch you.”

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