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Masters Snooker: Mark Allen's title bid halted by Barry Hawkins

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Clear aim: Mark Allen lines up a shot on way to victory over Shaun Murphy at the Masters

Clear aim: Mark Allen lines up a shot on way to victory over Shaun Murphy at the Masters

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Clear aim: Mark Allen lines up a shot on way to victory over Shaun Murphy at the Masters

Mark Allen's bid for a first Masters title was halted by Barry Hawkins - but the Ulsterman can approach the World Championship at the Crucible in April with renewed confidence after a strong showing at Alexandra Palace.

Allen humbled defending champion Shaun Murphy 6-4 in the first round and started as favourite against Hawkins in the quarter-finals of the £600,000 glamour event but fell to a 6-2 defeat.

Allen, the world number 11, has never won a Triple Crown - World, Masters and UK - event but his current form has suggested this could be his breakthrough season.

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