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Allen’s Northern Ireland Trophy dream crushed by Carter

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen went out at the quarter-final stage last night in the Waterfront Hall

Mark Allen yesterday crashed out of the Northern Ireland Trophy at the quarter-final stage.

The Antrim potter had high hopes of making the final four but his opponent Allister Carter from England turned on the style to triumph 5-2 at the Waterfront Hall.

In the best of nine frames contest, Allen failed to move through the gears when he needed to.

Carter will face either Barry Hawkins or Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-finals, with both players locked at four frames each late last night.

John Higgins and Dave Harold will lock horns in the other semi-final.

Higgins, the two-time world champion, battled hard for a 5-3 victory over Preston potter Ian McCulloch, but it was Harold who caused the upset of the day.

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A qualifier from Stoke, Harold dumped out defending champion Stephen Maguire with a crushing 5-2 victory.

"I've got a great record against Stephen, that's three wins out of three," reflected a delighted Harold.

"I've not played the top players for the last few years, but I've worked harder than I've ever worked during the summer.

"I'm really looking forward to the next round, there's everything to play for. It's a semi-final next but it would be fantastic if I could get to a final."

Harold's last ranking semi-final was five years ago, coincidentally against Higgins in the Citywest Irish Masters in Dublin.

The 41-year-old slipped to a 6-4 defeat to the Scot in that match, but is understandably full of confidence after his achievements this week. Leading 3-0 the Trent Vale professional never looked back.

And despite a composed 111 break from the world number two to reduce his arrears to 4-2, it was Harold who held firm to progress.

"I came to Belfast with a new cue and didn't know what to expect," added Harold, the world number 28. "My last two matches have been poor, so I didn't go into the match with any confidence. But from the very first ball you sometimes know your form is

there. I flowed and it all clicked together. "My confidence flowed, that was one of my best match performances for a very long time.

"If I keep my form going it's going to take someone to play well to beat me."

A disappointed Maguire admitted: "I was a no-show today. I've played Dave three times and never given him a game, it's disappointing.

"He played better than me, but in the first six frames I was in and amongst the balls. It's back to the drawing board."

Fellow Scot Higgins managed just one break over 50, but battled hard to reach his first ranking event semi-final since 2006 when he won the World Championship.

The Wishaw cueman was always ahead and said: "It was stop-start, stop-start, it was hard to get any rhythm going. I'm just pleased to have got over the winning line.

"I feel good, but feeling good and playing good is a totally different ball game."

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