The 35 year-old secured a sixth career ranking success and first on home soil.
Mark Allen was in a jubilant mood after completing his tense 9-8 triumph over John Higgins in the Northern Ireland Open final on Sunday in Belfast.
In front of his cheering fans amid an electric atmosphere at the Waterfront Hall, Allen came from two frames down with three to play to deny the former world number one in a thrilling decider.
“It sounds amazing to be honest,” Allen said upon being reminded in his post-match press conference that he is the new Northern Ireland Open champion.
“I can’t believe it’s actually happened, especially given my record here in recent years and the fact that I didn’t quite have my best stuff this week, but what I did have was unbelievable resilience and determination. I never gave up.”
“At 8-6 down against John tonight, to be honest I was getting completely outplayed at that point – I was getting froze out, getting chances at long reds, and that was pretty much it for the best part of four frames.
“I played a really good 15th frame, my safety was really good, I potted some really good individual balls, and I started to put John under a bit more pressure.
“You’re just hoping for a chance in the last frame, and I managed to take the two to finally get over the line, but the buzz towards the end there – I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stand up and pot the last few balls.
“Every ball I potted in that last clearance, the roar from the crowd is something I’ve never ever experienced in my life and maybe never will again.
“It made me more nervous, but it spurred me on, and I think the realisation of what I was about to do then hit me – I could feel myself getting quite emotional.
“Any win against John (is good), but to do it in a final in a deciding frame in my hometown is just what dreams are made of.
“There’s always a chance that John could come out and absolutely demolish you, look at what he done at the Players Championship last year, it was snooker from the gods.
“But that’s why you play the sport, you want to play the very best on the biggest occasions, and John is one of the very best.
“I pride myself in believing that my best game is as good as theirs. Just to play John in a final – I’d never played him in a final before – and to do that here in Belfast is a dream come true, it’s what you play the game for.”
After the first twelve frames of the final were shared in what was an evenly contested battle throughout, Higgins seemed to hit the front at just the right time when breaks of 64 and 136 helped him to an 8-6 advantage.
However, Allen dug deep when it mattered most, and with the aid of his vocal support he managed to reel his esteemed opponent back in before clinching glory in the final frame of 17.
In addition to collecting a champion’s cheque worth £70,000, Allen raised aloft the Alex Higgins Trophy – silverware named in honour of his countryman, a two-time world champion.
Featured photo credit: WST