The showdown took place amid a frenzied atmosphere in Belfast.
Mark Allen delighted his home supporters as he came from two frames down to win the Northern Ireland Open title for the first time at the Waterfront Hall on Sunday.
The Northern Irishman dug deep when it mattered most, winning the last three frames against John Higgins to prevail with a 9-8 scoreline after what was an enthralling battle from start to finish.
There was never more than a couple of frames between the pair as the duel swung in one player’s favour and then the other, before Allen’s last-minute rally.
Victory for the 35 year-old represents a sixth ranking success and will rival his Masters glory from 2018 in terms of the most important of his career so far.
In addition to collecting a champion’s cheque worth £70,000, Allen raised aloft the Alex Higgins Trophy – silverware named in honour of one of Allen’s fellow countrymen and snooker heroes.
The Northern Ireland Open final got off to the perfect start for Allen as he took the opening two frames with the aid of a run of 82, but Higgins responded well with a terrific contribution of 123.
The second half of the first session grew progressively tactical and it looked as though Allen would take advantage when he had a handsome lead in the eighth frame at 4-3 in front, only for Higgins to dish with a ridiculous, albeit trademark, clearance to level the scores up.
The pendulum continued to swing back and forth as the play resumed for the evening session later in the day, with Allen’s breaks of 70 and 85 countered by runs of 63 and 59 from his esteemed opponent.
Higgins, chasing a 32nd ranking success in what was his 52nd final, stepped it up a gear after the final mid-session break and compiled a 64 to hit the front for the first time in the match.
When the Scot won the next frame as well with a brilliant second century to lead 8-6, it looked for all money as though he was going to deny Allen and his boisterous fans.
However, the latter refused to give in, and despite not being able to produce his usual free-scoring style, Allen scrapped his way back into contention to force a deciding frame.
Both players had chances to land the killer blow, but Allen finally took the opportunity he needed to seal one of the most memorable triumphs from the Home Nations series.
Victory in the Northern Ireland Open completes a somewhat amazing turnaround in the fortunes of Allen, who was left demoralised with the game after the World Championship earlier this year in what has been a turbulent time for him off the baize too.
This success, though, underlines once again the talent and pedigree at his disposal – coming, of course, just days after he compiled a 147 break against Si Jiahui in the opening round.
For Higgins, it was disappointment after the narrowest of defeats for the Wizard of Wishaw, but after a fitness regime that has left him noticeably trimmer, the 46 year-old shows no signs that his career is on a downward spiral, or even close to it.
This tournament and the plaudits belong to Allen, however, who will head to the upcoming defence of his Champion of Champions title, and indeed the rest of the campaign, with confidence at an all-time high.