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Allen chasing Welsh Open success while hoping for NI football glory

 

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On target: Mark Allen has found form at the Welsh Open in Cardiff, beating James Wattana 4-0 yesterday

On target: Mark Allen has found form at the Welsh Open in Cardiff, beating James Wattana 4-0 yesterday

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On target: Mark Allen has found form at the Welsh Open in Cardiff, beating James Wattana 4-0 yesterday

Mark Allen knows Northern Ireland are in for a stern test when they meet Bosnia and Herzegovina in their Euro 2020 qualifier next month.

The Antrim potter progressed into round three at the Welsh Open yesterday with an assured 4-0 win against James Wattana, composing breaks of 72 and 67, to line up a clash today with Dominic Dale.

And the World No.7 is an avid football fan away from the table, keeping a close eye on Michael O'Neill's men as they vie to reach just their second European Championship finals.

But with the all-important qualifier fast approaching, the five-time ranking event winner says he is acutely aware of the task in hand.

"I'm always in a Northern Ireland top - it's where I'm from, I'm proud to be there and I want to support my country," he said.

"The qualifier is going to be very tough.

"But if we can get any team back to Windsor Park (for the qualifier final) then I think we've got a great shout.

"We've got a great record under Michael O'Neill at Windsor Park."

Allen is vying for his maiden ranking event victory since the Scottish Open in 2018, preparing to do battle with home favourite Dale under the Motorpoint Arena lights.

And after the experienced 48-year-old praised Allen's bold style of snooker, The Pistol added he has more to his game than just flair.

"I'm pretty committed in the shots I choose to go for, but I feel like I've got more than that as well and I've developed a more rounded game," he added.

"I still want to play good attacking snooker, but sometimes the balls dictate otherwise.

"But it's going to be a tough match against Dominic, and he's going to thrive here on his home turf."

Elsewhere, London-born Northern Ireland international Gerard Greene toppled world No.16 Ali Carter 4-0, stunning the two-time World Championship finalist to move into round three.

The World No.108 struck a masterful 100 break in the final frame to cap off his march, teeing up a match with Wales' Daniel Wells today.

But Antrim's Jordan Brown suffered a second round defeat, losing 4-2 to global No.3 and three-time world champion Mark Williams.

Watch the Welsh Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds

Belfast Telegraph