Saturday, 10 December 2011

Galvanised Allen makes first pro final

Mark Allen has been knocking on the door for quite a while but tonight he reached his first professional final with a 9-7 win against Ricky Walden.

Northern Ireland's number one has gained a reputation as the nearly man of the circuit with five ranking semi-final defeats - but he banished his hoodoo in a match that perfectly showcased his fighting spirit.

Picture by Monique Limbos
He came into tonight's session 5-3 adrift, and opening with a string of four frames flipped the match on its head before he showed great coolness under pressure to finish the job for a place in the UK Championship final.

It takes great bottle to play like that in a match that matters so much but Allen has been at it all week.

The feisty young Ulsterman has been the topic of hot debate this week with his comments about Barry Hearn being the main talking point for people around the game.

But instead of letting his critics drag him down, it's galvanised him. He's come back fighting and won the headlines for what he's doing on the table, instead of off it. And, that's what it's all about. That's why we're here in York and that's what Mark Allen cares about.

As well as his mental toughness, I've been most impressed by his safety play this week. This isn't the side of his game he's been most renowned for down the years but it's been spot on in York. Add that to his ability to make outrageous pots and score heavily and you have a UK Championship finalist.

Allen has been playing with a smile on his face at the Barbican and now faces one last test to take home the trophy. Judd Trump stands in his way in what should be an excellent final between two talented left-handers.

By the very nature of these tremendous attackers, you can guarantee both players will be out there to win by their own accord instead of waiting for the other to lose it.

Hold onto your hats, there could be fireworks at the Barbican.


  1. it was 5 ranking semis and a masters semi prior to reaching UK final

  2. You are right. UK, WC, CO, NIT and BC.

    Think there were also two PTCs plus Masters and Wuxi.

    Good spot though