Dundalk striker Patrick Hoban is hoping that the experience of finishing a runner-up last Thursday night is the only taste of defeat he has to endure this year.
The 28-year-old made it to the final of the Embassy Open Snooker Tournament but went down 5-0 in the final to David J McArdle.
Having only taken up snooker after first moving to Dundalk seven years ago, getting to a final was a big thing for the Loughrea native but despite admitting that he lost to the better player, losing is not something that sits well with the striker.
“He was just too good,” Hoban admitted.
“I had my chances but he just punished me at the right times. I’d say I could have won three frames out of five but you can tell he has played a few snooker finals before because he punished me big time. He just showed his quality and deserved to win overall.
“I’ve no excuses but hopefully it’s the only time I’m a runner-up this year,” he laughed.
Of more importance to Hoban is preparing for the return of the League of Ireland season on July 31st. The striker has already criticised the decision to curtail the season to just 13 more matches both on Twitter and on national radio and said that, while he wants to win another title this season, the fact the season has been halved has taken a bit of the shine off it.
“It’s not winning the league for me,” he said of the shortened season.
“Winning the league for me is playing 36 games. It’s a long, hard fought season. Luckily enough I’ve got to do it three times now in my career and there are lads in our dressing room who have done it more times than me. To win a league over 18 games is not winning a league and I’m not just saying that because we’re three points behind Rovers now.
“We possibly have to win most of our games, if not all of them, but even if we do that it’s not winning the league. Even if we win it I can’t count it as a league medal.
“It would be brilliant to qualify for the Champions League next year but that’s the only way I could look at it to be honest.
“I still want to win, don’t get me wrong. If someone came to my front door and said let’s have a race I want to win. Regardless of what it is, I want to win but it won’t feel like a league medal to me,” he said.
Hoban played his first game since hitting his 100th league goal against Finn Harps back in March in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Derry City and is hoping further games this week against Bohemians and Drogheda Utd will help him return to the sort of form that saw him hit five goals in the opening five games before the season was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was good to play someone different instead of playing against each other,” he said of the Derry game.
“You can tell there’s still a lot of rustiness on our side but it was just good to get back out on the pitch again and we’ll benefit massively from that especially with more games to come as well.
“It’s just about building up to the 90 minute mark and beyond again. We’ve a lot coming our way now in the next couple of months so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for the league at the end of the month and then Europe isn’t too far after that again. We’ve a lot of friendlies coming now thick and fast but they’re what we need to get match fit.
“It’s strange playing behind closed doors. Even coming out from the YDC is different and having no fans there is weird but in these situations we just need to start creating our own atmosphere and bring our own intensity to the game.
“Obviously we’d all prefer to play in front of fans but it’s just the way it is at the moment that we can’t do that. We have to learn to create our own intensity and our own standards in the game. If you don’t do that you could get punished which we did the other day because we were 1-0 down before we knew it.
“It would be nice to get a few goals leading up to the league re-starting but I’m not too worried about that. The main aim for me now is building up to the 90 minute mark and getting my match sharpness back again so I’m back to where I was before I left off because I felt I was in a great place in terms of fitness and sharpness and I could really feel myself going strength to strength. It’s up to me now to get back to that standard so I’m ready for what’s to come.”
You can be sure when the real action resumes Hoban and co will be in the right frame of mind.