Monday 21 February

Dempsey's Professional Grand Slam Glory

Stevie Dempsey secured the best win of his career to date after ousting Craig Waddingham in a pulsating final to win the 2022 Ultimate Pool Professional Grand Slam and pocket £14,000 – the biggest payday in the sport for the past few years.

Having missed the previous three professional events, the former European Champion from Ireland was somewhat a master of brinksmanship in Newcastle-under-Lyme, showing class, determination and bottle in several close matches.

The number 13 seed began his campaign with a deciding frame win over Jordan Church (8-7) before being pushed to the losers’ side of the draw after a 7-6 defeat to four-time world champion Gareth Potts.

Even in that loss to Potts, though, Dempsey broke well and looked good. ‘The Hammer’ eventually qualified for the straight knockout phase with a 6-4 success over Masters runner-up Simon Fitzsimmons.


In one of the highlights of the tournament, Dempsey produced back-to-back doubles against the clock to pip reigning BI World Champion Scott Gillespie 6-5 just before the buzzer in the last 16. He then eliminated two-time WEPF World Champion and recent Professional Cup finalist Tom Cousins 8-5 in the quarter-finals.

That win put the reigning three-time Irish champion into Finals Night where he faced local hero Jimmy Croxton. In a predictably tight contest, Dempsey made the most of a memorable fluke in frame 10 by break clearing in the 11th to take the contest just before the 45-minute match-clock expired.

Despite his heroics getting to the final, many would have had his opponent Waddingham down as the favourite to lift the trophy.

The former World Masters winner and last season’s number one ranked Challenger Series player was competing in his first Ultimate Pool professional ranking event and he was relentless as he made his way to the showpiece match.


‘Wadd’ got there undefeated, seeing off number three ranked Declan Brennan 8-6 and then France’s Christophe Lambert 8-5 to qualify for the last 16. He continued to run a gauntlet of high-profile opponents by defeating number one ranked professional Shane Thompson 8-3, reigning Professional Cup champion Jordan Shepherd 8-5 and then professional number two Shaun Storry 8-3 in the last 16, quarters and semi-finals respectively.

The final, though, was a nervy affair, as balls off the break largely deserted both players. Waddingham went 2-0 in front, but Dempsey recovered to move 3-2 up. The pair traded the next four frames before a crucial moment in frame 10 where Waddingham made a positional error trying to land on his penultimate colour. Dempsey capitalised to open up a two-frame gap for the first time.

With time wearing thin, Frame 11 was protracted as Dempsey protected what he had with the clock ticking down. Waddingham managed to win the frame to go within one, but with only 29 seconds left on the clock when Dempsey broke in the next, the game was up and the Irishman was crowned champion.