Snooker: No luck of the Irish for Fergal O’Brien as he draws world No.1 Mark Selby

Mark Selby won the Betfred World Snooker Championship for the second time after beating China's Ding Junhui 18-14 in the final in Sheffield last year
Mark Selby won the Betfred World Snooker Championship for the second time after beating China's Ding Junhui 18-14 in the final in Sheffield last year
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After winning the longest frame in professional snooker history to reach the Crucible, the first-round draw of the World Snooker Championship could hardly have been less kind to Fergal O’Brien.

The 45-year-old Irishman beat David Gilbert 10-9 in the final round of qualifying at Ponds Forge - after the final round took two hours, three minutes and 41 seconds to complete.

And his reward is a first-round tie against reigning champion Mark Selby, the world No.1.

The 33-year-old from Leicester also won the China Open at the start of April, and looks in good shape to become the first player to follow up that title with Crucible glory.

Their match will begin at 10am on Saturday, with the champion playing first in accordance with tradition as the tournament gets under way.

Ronnie O’Sullivan last landed the world title when achieving back-to-back successes in 2012 and 2013, and the five-time winner will face Wallsend’s Gary Wilson - one of five Crucible debutants - in his opener.

Chinese 17-year-old Yan Bingtao is expected to have a big future in the sport and will tackle 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy in the first round.

And Zhou Yuelong, 19, makes his first appearance in an all-Chinese clash with last year’s runner-up Ding Junhui, based at the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Of the other newcomers, Leeds’ David Grace opens up against Kyren Wilson, who reached the quarter-finals last year, and Thai player Noppon Saengkham faces Neil Robertson, the 2010 world champion from Australia.

Four-time winner John Higgins plays Martin Gould while strongly fancied Judd Trump, the 2011 runner-up, has veteran Rory McLeod in the first round.

A clash of former champions sees Stuart Bingham play Peter Ebdon, while 2006 Crucible king Graeme Dott is rewarded for qualifying this time with an opener against two-time former runner-up Ali Carter.

An all-Scottish clash sees Anthony McGill set a tough task against qualifier - and former semi-finalist - Stephen Maguire.