PAUL DAVISON hailed a “fantastic” Barbican experience as he bowed out of the UK Championship in York, writes Steve Carroll.

The Pickering potter was on course for a major shock as he led world number seven Shaun Murphy 3-0 in their last 64 clash in the main arena.

But the Magician dominated after the interval and gave Davison, on his Barbican debut, few chances to spring a surprise in what is snooker’s second biggest tournament.

“The experience was fantastic. I have loved every second of it,” said Davison.

“It drives you on to want more. There was nothing better than playing in the UK at the Barbican and it was definitely worth the wait.”Davison, who had shared the stage with fans’ favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan on an adjacent table, said he felt relaxed throughout his time in the spotlight in front of a sell-out crowd.

“The arena was great. I was a bit more relaxed and I really enjoyed it. The atmosphere went down a bit when everyone was leaving after Ronnie O’Sullivan had finished. It went a little flat.

“I dominated the first four frames and I had half a sniff to be 4-0 up. I was happy to be 3-1 up but, the next four frames and after that, that’s as good matchplay snooker as you will see.”

The North Yorkshire cueman, left, had reached the second round after a 6-4 win over Gerard Greene last Thursday. The odds were stacked against him for Saturday’s televised encounter, but he got off to a perfect start – grinding out the first frame and then striking a sumptuous 88 break.

When he went 3-0 up, following a brilliant shot to pot a red and free the brown off the left cushion, Davison had Murphy “very concerned”.

But a missed pink with the rest gave the former world champion a glimpse in the next and it was all he needed.

Murphy took that last frame before the mid-session interval, and was rampant after the interval, bagging decisive breaks of 78, 80 and 65 as he secured six frames in a row.

Davison did not dwell on the negatives. “I don’t think I did too much wrong,” he said. “I’m disappointed I lost from 3-0 up but he’s won it more than I have lost it so it’s not like I have thrown it away.”

Murphy admitted Davison had been a very difficult opponent, saying: “Paul is a gritty player and got good local support.

“I was very concerned. It got to 3-0 and I thought, ‘here we go again – it’s another day of trying hard and getting nothing for it’.

“It’s hard to get going if your opponent doesn’t give you a chance. In the first three frames he was very tight and he didn’t give me any chances. At 3-0 down I had to keep believing.

“I got my first real chance in the fourth frame and took it. That was a little positive step.

“I was just relieved I carried on in the vein I had before the interval – I got a few chances and put them away.”