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Allen targets home success after semi disappointment

 

Mark Allen
Mark Allen

By Frank Brownlow

Mark Allen already has one of snooker's showpiece tournament's on his glittering CV, and adding the 19.com Northern Ireland Open crown would mean every bit as much to the Antrim cueman as last year's stunning Masters triumph.

Allen will be cheered to the rafters whenever he is in action at the atmospheric Waterfront Hall this week, the home crowd desperate for a local success in the £405,000 event.

Allen comes into the tournament, which starts today and finishes on Sunday, on a good run of form having reached the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions event at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, where he was edged out by World champion Judd Trump on Saturdaynight.

Allen starts his Belfast campaign tomorrow afternoon against Sam Craigie, with the winner facing either Jamie O'Neill or Sunny Akrani in the last 64.

The World No.7's biggest threats will be Trump, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, whom Allen destroyed in Coventry last week.

Selby comes to Belfast as the only player in with a chance of the £1m bonus for winning all four Home Nations titles, having already bagged the English Open this season.

Trump, the defending champion and holder of the Alex Higgins Trophy, and O'Sullivan will be particularly big attractions for the local fans, both enter the Belfast fray tomorrow, while the popular John Higgins is in action tonight.

Fifteen-year-old wildcard Robbie McGuigan, stepson of Mark Allen, will have plenty of support when he takes on Dungannon's Patrick Wallace tonight, while Jordan Brown, Declan Lavery and Gerard Greene will have home backing too.

Brown faces James Wattana, Lavery tackles Stephen Maguire and Greene meets Marco Fu.

One particularly intriguing match-up sees the legendary Jimmy White up against former World champion Peter Ebdon.

For full draw and schedule visit worldsnooker.com and for tickets visit waterfront.co.uk or tel 90334455.

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