Antrim man Mark Allen secured the Paul Hunter trophy and Masters title last night in a thrilling final at Alexandra Palace in London.
His opponent 26 year old Kyren Wilson, also a first-time finalist matched Allen at nearly every step. Allen is the first player from Northern Ireland to win the title in forty years since the much-loved Belfast character Alex “The Hurricane” Higgins. Allen saw off Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter final before ending John Higgins’ campaign 6 -3 in the semi’s. Wilson had an astounding route to the final making a remarkable come-back against Judd Trump in the semi-finals, not bad for a youngster whose only ranking was 9th in the Shanghai Masters!
The weight of the occasion was very evident as both players made mistakes from the get go. Wilson led 4-3 going into the break. Allen went onto lead 7-5 before the next mid session break and finally had a two frame lead in what was a very evenly matched contest. He won the next frame but Wilson fought back to close the gap again to 8 – 6. Allen widened the gap again making a break of 69 before finishing Wilson off in the last frame with a score of 72.
Allen told the BBC “It has been a long time coming. I was never sure that it was going to come to be honest. I knocked on the door for so long and I can finally say I’ve won a Triple Crown.” He also added – “It’s 40 years since Alex Higgins first lifted this trophy so to bring it back to Northern Ireland, that’s what I do it for. Mark showed his love for his home country when he wore his Northern Ireland football jersey in the post match press conference.