VETERAN snooker star Darren Morgan will take his place at the Welsh Open later this month, more than a quarter of a century after reaching the tournament’s first ever final.

Newbridge’s Morgan, 51, runner-up to Stephen Hendry in 1992, hasn’t featured in the event’s televised stages for 18 years and last took part in the qualifying rounds in 2006.

The former pro, who reached the semi-finals of the World Championship in 1994, earned a Welsh Open wildcard after winning the Robert Harrhy Memorial, hosted by Redz Snooker Club in Cwmbran.

Daniel Bridle, Ben Fortey, Dylan Emery and Mike Hodge were all beaten en route to a showdown with teenager Jackson Page, who retained his European Under-18 crown this week.

With Welsh amateur champion Rhydian Richards having already bagged the first of two wildcards for Cardiff, Morgan saw off Ebbw Vale’s Page 4-2 to claim the trophy.

Morgan has won nearly everything on offer on the amateur circuit and is relishing the opportunity of mixing it with the top professionals at the capital’s Motorpoint Arena later this month.

“Welsh Snooker changed things slightly for this season when it came to the two wildcards for the Welsh Open,” he said.

“It’s normally the Welsh number one and the Welsh amateur champion who get them but they said that this season one would go to the winner of a new tournament.

“I normally play in masters events but because this wildcard was on offer I decided to play men’s events as well.

“I’ve played four and won two, I’m in the quarter- finals of the amateur championship and number one in the rankings.

“Also, when you’re my age people tend to write you off so I wanted to show them that I could still do it.

“I had a 141 break in the first round at Redz and won all my matches quite comfortably up to the semis.

“It was a good game with Jackson. We both made some good breaks and there were one or two frames that could have gone either way.

“Getting to the Welsh Open is massive for me because it was 12 years ago that I last played in the qualifiers.

“It was the Welsh Professional Championship up to 1991 and only open to Welsh players.

“I won that in 1990 and 1991, and then made the final the next year when it had become the Welsh Open – Hendry made three centuries in the first four frames of that final.”

On his aims for the Cardiff event, he added: “No-one is expecting me to do anything. It was the same at the Riga Masters two years ago and I reached the semi-finals, so you never know what can happen.”

Last year, the two Welsh Open wildcards, Page and Tyler Rees, were invited to play in the World Championship qualifiers.

Morgan is hoping the same happens this time around as he would love to play at the Crucible one final time.