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Allen exits but vows to win NI Open one day

 

By Ross Lawson

Mark Allen's dream of a home Dafabet Northern Ireland Open title is over after slipping to a surprise second-round defeat in Belfast last night.

The home favourite once again had all eyes on him in the Waterfront Hall, but the will of the people couldn't take him to victory, suffering a 4-3 defeat at the hands of China's Tian Pengfei.

It was a result Allen felt he could have no complaints about, beaten by a potter who made three half-centuries before ending the game with a break of 109.

But that didn't take away the pain of defeat for Allen, three times leading the contest prior to the final-frame disappointment.

"I do feel the pressure, it wasn't as bad this year as it was last year so hopefully in about 10 years' time I'll be able to handle it!" said the Antrim cueman.

"Hopefully some day I can lift the trophy for the people of Northern Ireland but I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself, there's a long way to go before you can ever do that.

"Just because I'm the home favourite doesn't mean those fairytales are going to come true, I'll always give 110 per cent out there, but hopefully in the years to come I'll deal with that better," he added.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't particularly enjoy the pressures that come with that, but I'd much rather have a tournament here in Belfast and have to cope with that than not."

Things started on the front foot for Allen against his Chinese opponent, edging his way into a 1-0 lead though it wasn't always convincing for Ulster's world No.7.

But, as he did throughout the match, Tian responded with a break of 73, with the toing and froing of the pair continuing until the decider at 3-3.

From there Allen was not left with a chance, with his opponent executing a wonderful break of 109 to wrap up the contest having earlier seen the pink wobble over the pocket when looking certain to drop in frame five.

And with the fine margins of a best-of-seven match coming to the fore, Allen admitted he couldn't be too disappointed with the state of defeat.

"I felt like I missed a couple of shots early on, but other than that I've not really done too much wrong," he added.

"A few times the ball didn't quite run my way but then he's gone and made four decent breaks, that's pretty good and I can have no complaints, I've been beaten by the better player on the day.

"I felt like I chose the right shots in the last two frames, just didn't execute them in the way I could have done."

A tournament in Belfast meant more than on-table activity for Allen, donating his £2,500 prize money to The Welcome Organisation, a homeless charity in the city, and Care for Cam, in support of a local boy suffering from a rare form of cancer.

Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with Colin Murray and daily studio analysis with Neal Foulds

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