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Joe Swail hopes to lift inaugural Higgins Trophy at Titanic

By Frank Brownlow

Joe Swail - one of three local players in the inaugural Northern Ireland Open at the Titanic Exhibition Centre - will headline a special promotional night at the Blackstaff, Springfield Road, Belfast, tomorrow (7.30pm).

Swail, enjoying an upturn in fortunes after recent laser eye surgery, will be joined atSwai the £366,000 Titanic event by world number eight Mark Allen and up and coming professional Jordan Brown.

Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan will be among the favourites.

Swail and Brown will be at the Blackstaff tomorrow night to coach kids and also talk about their chances in the Northern Ireland Open, which runs from November 14-20.

The Alex Higgins Trophy will go to the winner of the Titanic showpiece, something Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association Chairman Raymond McAllister is delighted about.

"Obviously Alex Higgins is a Belfast snooker legend and it's hoped that members of his family will be able to attend the Northern Ireland Open," he said.

"One of our main initiatives is coaching kids at grassroots level and it would be great if we could, one day,produce another world champion like Alex Higgins or Dennis Taylor."

Higgins, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 61, won the world title in 1972 and 1982, while Taylor was triumphant in the legendary black ball final against Steve Davis in 1985.

McAllister added: "It's great to see big-time snooker back in Belfast and I'm sure crowds will flock to the Northern Ireland Open.

"NIBSA are really on the ball with this and we will have a stand at the tournament throughout the week.

"We are working closely with World Snooker on a number of initiatives and have arranged free tickets to the tournament for our juniors."

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