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I'm so sad I couldn't win it for my fans, admits Allen

By Ross Lawson

Home favourite Mark Allen admitted he was finally put out of his misery after crashing out of the Coral Northern Ireland Open to Anthony Hamilton last night.

The World No.10 fought back from 3-0 down, but ultimately home advantage didn't pay dividends in the quarter-finals of the £366,000 event, missing out 5-2 in the Titanic Exhibition Centre.

And Allen conceded his form in the last eight was no different than what he had seen across the week, feeling fortunate to get this far while disappointed to have under-performed in front of a packed-out home crowd.

"I'm glad the torture is over," he admitted. "From start to end, all week I've really struggled playing at home, I didn't handle the occasion and being home favourite.

"I appreciate that crowd support, it was fantastic, but I just didn't deal with it and I couldn't relax.

"Anthony did well, he froze me out but my form hadn't been good all week and it finally got what it deserved.

"My last shot summed up my whole event - I missed a black off its spot that could have been frame ball to get to 4-3, but good luck to Anthony in the semi-finals."

It was the Sheriff of Pottingham who came out firing, wasting little time to put 96 on the board as Allen barely had the chance to hit a ball in anger before falling behind.

But the second, more even frame, proved crucial, with Hamilton winning a gruelling effort on the final black in 52 minutes, a feat Allen wasn't able to come back from.

And the Northern Ireland cueman became his own worst enemy at times, missing a vital yellow when on 43 in the sixth frame, which he eventually won, but not getting away with the same mistake twice in the seventh and final frame.

And when Hamilton cleaned up, it was a literal head-in-hands moment for the man cheered on in his country's first tournament for a decade, conceding that the small margins cost him when it mattered most.

"There was lots of good safety and I don't think he missed a pot he went for until the fourth frame and did a job on me. He played really well and I can't complain about that," Allen added.

"A few bits of luck went against me but Anthony was a much better player than me.

"It's odd because my game has been in really good shape, it was the pressure that got to me, but I'm not concerned for the UK Championship next week."

In today's semi-finals, Hamilton goes on to face Barry Hawkins, who breezed through his last-eight clash with Michael White by the same 5-2 scoreline.

But the world No.76 - himself reaching a first ranking semi-final in seven years - admitted he was left with plenty of sympathy for his counterpart.

"I felt for Mark, he didn't get going and didn't get the run of the balls," said Hamilton.

"It was one of those matches for him, he must be disappointed he didn't play his best, but he didn't get much help either," he added.

Today's other semi-final sees Kyren Wilson up against Mark King.

• Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport 1 and Quest, featuring daily studio analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.

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