Life couldn't get much better for Mark Allen
Published 17/04/2013 | 07:59
It's 8pm on Thursday night and Mark Allen is doing what he does best, cruising around a snooker table, compiling a classy century break.
Applause rings out as he passes the ton mark. The venue? The modest Crumlin Snooker Club on the main street of the small town just a few miles from Aldergrove airport. The audience? Scores of teenagers. The opposition? The best young players in the club. The reason he's there? A favour for his old pal and former snooker professional Colin Bingham who has recently taken over the running of the place.
The kids are transfixed as the boy from up the road in Antrim pots red, colour, red.... and so on. Allen's snooker is in fine fettle and more importantly so too his life.
He has come through some dark days and having bravely revealed his battle with depression a few years ago, his thoughts are on a bright future rather than the past.
Mark has the world championship title to play for, he has a wedding to look forward to with his sweetheart Kyla McGuigan and he has a smile on his face.
Not long back from a rip roaring stag do in Letterkenny where he and 27 friends painted the town red, Allen, who has a daughter Lauren from a previous relationship with female snooker player Reanne Evans, tells me he has much to savour in the coming weeks and months.
"I'm getting married on May 10. Luckily for me I don't have to do much with the wedding due to the world championships coming up," he says.
"It's left to Kyla to do all the organisation. She's getting a bit stressed out but I suppose that comes with it. It's going to be a big day. It's in Monaghan and there will be about 120 guests and a lot of friendly faces there.
"Kyla has a little boy and I have a little girl so it will be lovely to have both of them there, hopefully as a page boy and flowergirl. It'd be very nice to have the world championship trophy in Monaghan too. It would make the champagne taste even sweeter but if I don't get it this year I'll keep doing everything to win it because I want to be world champion before I finish the game."
That positivity represents a marked change in attitude to his feelings of despair when he announced two years ago that he was suffering from depression.
When I bring it up Mark says: "I have to be wary of the signs that myself and the doctor who was looking after me discovered. I have good people around me with friends and family who now know the signs as well which is a big help.
"You never know what's around the corner, but it's safe to say the depression is well and truly behind me. I'm in a very good place. My snooker is good, my private life is good, I'm getting married to a great lady and I'm getting to see my daughter more through the courts. I'm doing fine now."