The 33-year-old has been on the professional circuit twice before, although perhaps his biggest day as an amateur came when he defeated Ding Junhui in the first round of the 2015 UK Championships.
He’s been an amateur again since 2018, but hasn’t spent the last four years competing, actually leaving the sport in July 2020 after missing out on a return to tour.
A defeat in the Challenge Tour play-off final was too much for Duffy and he forgot about snooker, focusing instead on building bricks.
Duffy said, ‘I lost in the play-offs to Alan Taylor in the final and it made me nod because I really gave it my all. Metro.co.uk, ‘I was going to do what I’m doing now and have two solid years with no work and see where I get.
‘So after that, I postponed my cue for two years. I literally didn’t touch it for about a year and then took a knock and thought, “I feel fine.” But I work as well as play. I’m a bricklayer and just play snooker in the middle.
‘I wasn’t even supposed to enter, I was sponsored literally two hours before the deadline, or else I wouldn’t have been in it. But the guy sponsored me so I thought I’d better practice. John Tomkins, Chesterfield businessman, what a generous man, paid my entry and thought I’d better take my hint. Incredible.’
Things will change again for Duffy, as he will now forget about bricklaying and focus solely on his cue as he gives his all to snooker, something it feels like he has lost his life on tour. Didn’t in the last term.
He said, ‘It should be two years now, see what I can do.’ ‘I don’t think you can work on Monday and play Ronnie on Tuesday, it doesn’t work does it?
‘I believe I have found my opportunity now. I’ve told myself that it’s been two years since I’ve been on tour, I’ve got it so let’s summarize. Don’t go halfway through the season and think, “I wish I had practiced more.” That’s what bothered me in the past.
‘I was just treating it as a hobby and not a job. It’s that easy to do. I will have a few hours before the match. It doesn’t work.
‘I had a word with my father because I work with him, I’d say, “I’ll work, then have a week off before a tournament,” but you can’t do that. That week is not enough for me to beat the players who are playing all day every day, that’s the fact.
With a full focus on the game, Duffy is confident of success, saying: ‘I can get into the top 32, I believe in myself so much.’
However, even with this return to professional status, a part of Chesterfield will be missed bricking as he resumes the mental turmoil of life on tour.
Duffy said after coming from Q School, ‘I’ll be back at work on Monday, I need money, but I won’t be there after that.
‘I love it, I love it. It’s kind of a relief because it’s very tiring mentally and with work, you know what you’re doing. It’s a relief from the pressure of this sport.
‘The mental pressure of this game is terrible, it’s awful, it’s just disgusting, it really is. But we have outgrown ourselves, if I have to, I will be here again in two years.’
The snooker tour is indeed mentally exhausting, but after coming through with the gruesome slog of the Q School, Duffy has shown that he has the brain power to tackle the fight.
Trying to enjoy scraps, devising a game plan and trying to take the pressure off are all useful strategies, as are something to help you sleep before the all-important final round.
‘I slept like a log! Two glasses of wine and I was out, Bosh,’ Duffy said of the night before his final match. ‘It’s been a long week!
‘If I lost today I would be back in two days and I was just scared of it, absolutely scared to come back. Stephen Hallworth was at the next table and I knew I would play him in the final event. He lost and I thought, “He’s lost, I’m going to lose, what am I doing for myself?”
‘It’s absolutely terrible. You feel like you can’t settle, it’s too hard to play well. It was my first hundred, but other than that I think my highest break has been 45. You’re just doing what you can to try and win a frame. You have to accept that this is how it is going to happen.
‘I saw that in my first game against Luke Pinch, it’s not about going for the break, just accept that it’s going to be s**t, it’s going to be full s**t and just Grind it through.
‘I am proud. I was with me saying to my friend, “You know what, I really enjoyed this week.” Because I have just come and thought I would finish it if need be. If you come up with a game plan you have half a chance of winning. Mentally you are ready for it. Instead of just turning around and thinking, How’s it going?’
That final match was a 4–3 win over Duffy’s good friend Daniel Wells, who was close enough that he would attend the Welshman’s wedding just days after the game – if he is still invited.
“It would be a bit of a relief,” Duffy said after the win, the moment I really don’t want to celebrate because I feel for Danny.
‘I’m even going to her wedding next week, f***ing hell, that would be a perfect laugh! Maybe I haven’t been invited yet. I hope he comes on tour because he is such a good player.
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