Allen’s Stocks Shoot North

Mark Allen continued his recent dominance with a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of fellow Norther Irishman Joe Swail – his second whitewash victory of the PTC Grand Finals in Galway.

27 year-old Allen successfully defended his World Open trophy earlier in March with victory over Matthew Stevens in the final in Haikou and has shown no signs of relinquishing that form on the return to his home island.

The encounter had been eagerly anticipated as a clash of Antrim but Swail, officially recognised as an amateur having dropped off the Main Tour, was no match for his young opponent and friend.

A quarter-final berth ensures that the former UK Championship runner-up is only three wins away from back-to-back ranking event triumphs – and the evidence suggests he is certainly performing well enough to achieve just that.

Allen has been a player widely tipped for great achievements since he burst onto the scene seven or eight years ago.

He recorded some incredible stand alone victories, such as the 13-11 success over reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2009 World Championship.

Yet, Allen became unstuck at the business end of several of the major championships, including the Crucible showpiece, the Masters and the UK Championship.

But in 2012 he finally put that to bed with a comfortable first ranking event final defeat of Stephen Lee in China and now looks ready to make the next step into somebody that is not just thrown into the hat as a contender for tournaments, but a player of genuinely substantial and consistent threat every time.

In Thursday’s other second round tie, Tom Ford came from 3-1 down to oust Jack Lisowski 4-3 in a tight battle that finished just before midnight.

It is a shame for Lisowski and the manner in which the result concluded will hopefully not again hinder his progression into the higher echelons of the sport.

For Ford, though, with the likes of Higgins and Trump already out in his half of the draw, the 29 year-old will surely be starting to dream of getting his hands on some silverware.

The other four encounters involved the final ties yet to be played in the round of 32.

Like Ford, Ben Woollaston came from two down with three to play to pip Mark Williams to the post 4-3, continuing what has been a rather nightmarish event for the elite Top 16 players who are involved.

Stuart Bingham was another victim as he went down 4-2 to countryman Joe Perry while Anthony McGill took down Robert Milkins by the same scoreline.

Elsewhere, German Masters runner-up Marco Fu also enjoyed a 4-2 win over Mark Joyce.

The second round draw is interesting in that there are so many opportunities for so many different people to make their mark.

Allen will be gunning to stamp his authority in the game right now while the likes of Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui will be hoping to remind everybody that they are still two of the best tournament winners around.

Fu, Ali Carter and Barry Hawkins could potentially add to what many may believe are barren trophy cabinets for players of their calibre while the rest all just desperately desire one.

Ford, Woollaston, Perry, McGill, Rod Lawler, Kurt Maflin, Xiao Guodong and Alfie Burden must all be chomping at the bit realising that this could be their moment.

So perhaps not the line-up anybody would have predicted but plenty of exciting stories simmering at the surface as the action at the Bailey Allen Hall nears the weekend’s play.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 

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