Allen on Antrim, Alex and More

New world number 11 Mark Allen has given a very interesting interview today in which he discusses comparisons to his legendary countryman Alex Higgins, as well as the possibility of reviving the Irish Professional Championship. Click below for more…

To view the article in full, please click here to visit the website of the Belfast Telegraph.

On the Irish Professional Championship:

“We have had our problems in Northern Ireland over the years and what happened at Massereene Barracks in Antrim earlier this year was terrible.

“Obviously snooker is insignificant by comparison but bringing the Irish Professional Championship to Antrim would be a nice boost for the town.

“The Antrim Forum would be an ideal venue. The tournament was actually held at the Forum many years ago and it would be great to bring a big event like that to Antrim. I will be approaching businesses with a view to coming on board as sponsors.

“With Joe Swail and myself doing reasonably well, it would be a good time to bring the tournament to Northern Ireland. It has been played in Dublin for a number of years but didn’t take place last year.

“There are 12 active professionals in Ireland at the moment so that would make for a competitive tournament, especially with the likes of former World champion Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien taking part.

“It could be played at the end of August and be completed in about four days.

“It would be a real bonus for all the Irish-based players as we would be getting match practice against fellow professionals,”

On the Northern Ireland Trophy:

“Joe Swail and myself both got great support when we played in the tournament.

“Joe would have his band of supporters and I would have mine but then Joe’s supporters would stay on to support me and vice versa. And that was great to see because we are such a small community with so few players that we all need to pull together,” said Allen, who voiced support for international team snooker to be brought back.

“There is potential for some form of international team snooker, whether we entered as a Northern Ireland team or an all Ireland team. I am sure people would come out and support that type of event,”

On his daughter and home life:

“It looks like it’s going to be a long drawn out process. I haven’t seen my daughter in 10 months which isn’t good. It looks like it might be a while before I get to see her.

“I like living in Northern Ireland, close to family and friends. When I want to sharpen up my game I head across to England.”

On the World Championship:

“Beating Ronnie O’Sullivan on such a big stage was a great achievement but it’s just a pity I couldn’t go on to win the tournament. After our match Ronnie told me that I had played well and could go on to win the title. Coming from somebody like Ronnie that meant a lot.

“I’m getting closer to winning tournaments and having reached the last four of the World Championship I would hope to challenge for the World title next season,”

On comparisons and his temper:

“Taylor won his world title in 1985 and I was born in 1986 so that puts it into some sort of perspective. But obviously I know all about Taylor and Higgins and all the history. Joe Swail has carried the flag very well since then.

“I suppose that on the table in the past I would have had some similarities to Alex Higgins.

“I’d be the first to admit that when I was younger my temperament wasn’t great. I was banned from the international team at a time.

“I used to thump the table and bang the cue off the ground but I try not do do that sort of thing now. I annoyed Ken Doherty once with that sort of behaviour but I didn’t mean any harm by it.”

On Ronnie:

“There are things Ronnie gets away with that other players just wouldn’t. It should be the same rules for everyone. As much as Ronnie sometimes says negative things about snooker, he is still brilliant for the game because of the way he plays.”

On being colour-blind:

“I would only have a bit of a problem if the brown was close to the reds. In that situation I jusk ask the referee to point out the brown,”

Given the belief among certain snooker fans that the current players are not actively involved enough with the running of the game, it is good to see a current, young professional like Mark showing an active interest in creating a new tournament such as the Irish Professional Championship. Hopefully he will be successful because events such as the recent World Series event in Killarney and the Northern Ireland Trophy have shown that there is still a high level of interest in the game over there. Also as he says it would be good match practice for the high level of Irish professionals currently in the game at the moment.

As far as his game is concerned, he has been a strong player for a good two or three seasons now so hopefully he will be able to go into next season with even greater confidence levels following his results last month in Sheffield and capture his first ranking title at some point. I would certainly not be surprised if he were to do this and who knows, it could just be at the Crucible…