Northern Ireland continued their excellent form in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Snooker World Cup by edging out ‘Dream Team’ Scotland 4-3 in Bangkok.
There was no such luck for south of the border, though, as Republic of Ireland’s erratic journey came to an end with a disappointing 4-1 defeat to China.
Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo won all four of their singles frames either side of a solitary consolation in the doubles for the Irish.
However, there was some controversy with Ken Doherty vigorously complaining that Liang Wenbo was allowed to play without a bow-tie – which would prove advantageous in the eyes of the Dubliner.
Indeed, Doherty went as far as to claim that the Chinese pairing should have been docked a frame – which perhaps brings up recent memories of David Haye’s post-match toe excuse following his world title defeat to Wladimir Kiltschko.
In truth, Ireland have been woefully poor during the World Cup while China’s duo have visibly gained in confidence as the week has progressed.
China will face Wales for a place in the final after world number one Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens defeated Australia 4-2.
The latter last eight encounters brought a succession of surprises as first, Northern Ireland ended 2nd seeded Scotland’s run and then Hong Kong fought gallantly to pip England in a decider.
The Northern Irish pairing of Mark Allen and Gerard Greene have arguably been the partnership of the event.
After going 2-0 ahead, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire drew level with two quick frames before both nations shared the subsequent brace to set up an enthralling finish.
In the past Higgins has had Allen’s number on the big occasion but it was the Antrim man’s turn for glory as he continued a prosperous time in sport for the six counties.
Finally, a battle royale between England and Hong Kong ended in Marco Fu and Fung Kwok Wai conjuring up one of the shocks of the tournament, ending the hopes of the in-form Mark Selby and Ali Carter.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of either of the semi-final matches but the unison that Allen and Greene have struck could be difficult to bypass.
Both the semi-finals and the final will be played tomorrow.
The group tables and format can be viewed by clicking here.