After two disappointing years, Belfast born Mark “The Pistol” Allen is in a positive frame of mind for this year’s tournament.
The pressure to win in the only tournament held in his native country has weighed heavily on the 33 year old and after an exit in first round last year and in the second round the previous year, he knew it was time for fresh approach to a competition which means the world to him.
He told the media “”I’m taking a totally different approach to this event this year. I’m trying to treat it like any other tournament – I’m even staying in a hotel even though I only live 20 minutes away.
“I’ve been getting away from any issues around tickets and doing as few pre-tournament interviews as possible just to try and take the pressure off myself.”
It seems to be working for him as he beat Sam Craigie 4-1 in the opening round yesterday. He said after the game “”I’m just happy to be in the next round. I feel I played a little bit better than I did the last two years and handled the situation better.
“I felt edgy again but I was ready for that as I knew that would be the case. I tried not to get involved with the crowd and just concentrate on my game.”
The Northern Ireland Open title is one which Mark would love to add collection telling the media “”Since this tournament started in 2016 it has definitely been on my radar. I’m from Northern Ireland and a proud Northern Irishman so I want to do it for the fans – but first and foremost for myself. This is a good start but there’s a long way to go.”
Last year’s winner Judd Trump will begin his title defence against James Cahill today, the latter having shot to prominence when beating The Rocket at the World Championship in April, whilst last year’s runner up Ronnie O’Sullivan will kick off his campaign against Oliver Lines later on today.
Hopefully Allen who has reached the semi-finals of four of his last six tournaments but believes he has not reaped the rewards his play has deserved, will reach this year’s final and make his dream come true.
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