After years of knocking on the door, Mark Allen has landed his first Triple Crown trophy.
The Northern Ireland potter became Masters champion for the first time on Sunday night after he beat Kyren Wilson 10-7 to record his biggest win of his career.
Allen, 31, has won three ranking titles before – two World Open victories in China and and the Players Championship here in the UK but lifting the Masters is his highest achievement to date.
And nobody can say it was not fully deserved. The in-form Ulsterman defeated the season’s top stars in Luca Brecel, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and new star in the making Wilson to land the Paul Hunter Trophy and a cheque for £200,000 in front of his family and dedicated fans at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Forty years after Northern Ireland’s Alex Higgins won the Masters for the first time and 31 years after Dennis Taylor became the last player from the country to win the trophy, Allen finally had the night he has been longing for since becoming a professional more than a decade ago.
Heartache in the UK Championship final in 2011 was Allen’s last major final on UK soil but victory tonight ensured the days of him being branded snooker’s ‘nearly man’ were put to bed. But he was certainly made to work hard after Wilson gave him a mighty contest.
Allen was forced to dig deep in the opening session and despite not playing at his best he managed to close it all square at 4-4.
The evening session saw Allen play more fluently like he has done throughout the week and a match-winning period which saw him win three frames on the bounce and score more than 200 points without reply was the deciding factor in when the final was won.
From level-pegging at 5-5, Allen turned the screw making breaks of 73, 119, and 50 to go 8-5 in front of his opponent.
Wilson, who produced the mother of all comebacks to beat Judd Trump in an enthralling Masters semi-final on Saturday, threatened to do the same when he found his range again as a break of 73 was followed up by winning a close-fought frame on the final red which helped reduce his arrears to 8-7 and got him right back into the contest.
But Wilson’s comeback was all over in frame 16 when he missed the brown with the rest which allowed Allen to make a run of 69 to go 9-7 in front.
And another error from Wilson in frame 17 was punished by Allen who closed out the match with a break of 71.
Mark Allen’s route to Masters Glory
Round One – beat Luca Brecel 6-3
Quarter-Final – beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1
Semi-Final – beat John Higgins 6-3
Final – beat Kyren Wilson 10-8