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Patrick Wallace keen to roll back years and set up all-Northern Ireland clash with Mark Allen

By Robert Jones

Published 08/11/2016

Back again: Patrick Wallace will play in next week’s NI Open
Back again: Patrick Wallace will play in next week’s NI Open

Patrick Wallace is thrilled by the opportunity to 'mix it with the big boys' again at next week's Coral Northern Ireland Open.

Dungannon's 47-year-old Wallace played on the professional tour from 1994 to 2011 and reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship in 2001.

He now works as an administrator for his father's company, but is still a regular on the amateur scene. In fact, Wallace won the Northern Ireland Amateur Championship last season and finished top of the rankings, which earned him a spot as a wildcard.

The Northern Ireland Open runs from November 14 to 20 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, and Wallace will face World No.106 Michael Georgiou in the evening session on Tuesday.

"I'm excited," said Wallace. "It will be nerve-racking because I thought my days of mixing it with the big boys were gone. There's a fantastic history of snooker in Northern Ireland so it's brilliant to have a big tournament back here.

"I still practice around 10 to 12 hours each week, I enjoy competing in amateur tournaments and I have done pretty well in them.

"As you go through your 40s your consistency level goes down, but every now and then I can still produce my best form and hopefully I can do that in Belfast.

"I've no plans to return to the tour. If I was young and single I would jump at the opportunity because the number of events and prize money are so much better than they were when I was a pro."

If Wallace wins his opening match, he could face Antrim favourite Mark Allen in round two, as long as Allen gets the better of Mark Joyce.

"To play Mark would be a fabulous occasion," added Wallace, whose run to the last eight at the Crucible 15 years ago ended when he lost to close friend and compatriot Joe Swail. "But I've got to try to win my first game."

With 128 players in the field and eight tables in the arena in the early stages, the Northern Ireland Open is an incredible chance for fans to see live sport at the highest level. Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump, John Higgins and Jimmy White will be among those competing for the £70,000 top prize and the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Belfast Telegraph

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