Home favourite Mark Allen produced a sensational maximum break in the opening round of the 2021 Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
Antrim ace Allen delighted a packed crowd at the Waterfront Hall by firing in a 147 break to complete a 4-1 victory over China’s Si Jiahui in Round One.
Allen’s second career maximum included a terrific final yellow to the opposite pocket as he clinched victory in style on Day One of the Home Nation Series event.
Earlier breaks of 76 and 50 had helped ‘The Pistol’ into a 3-1 lead, and he kept his cool to produce a perfect frame in the fifth as play on the other tables stopped to spectate.
“I was so nervous, I was shaking uncontrollably,” Allen told Eurosport. “Even the ref said afterwards he could see my head going on some shots.”
“To do it anywhere, but to do it here in front of the home fans is special.
“That yellow in the black pocket is the art of poor positional play.
“I played a shot in one of the earlier frames, I saw the white drifting a bit so I was aiming for the left side of the pocket and it turned in lovely.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Judd Trump kicked off his quest for a fourth consecutive Northern Ireland Open title with a 4-1 victory over Andrew Pagett.
Welshman Pagett claimed a scrappy opening frame, but Trump – who competed in the recent US Open Pool event – soon found his range and reeled off four in a row to reach the Last 64 with breaks of 50, 65 and 79 to his name.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has lost in the last three Northern Ireland Open finals, marked his return to the table with a 4-0 whitewash of Stuart Carrington.
The six-time World Champion needed little over an hour to seal his place in Round Two, completing the rout with a break of 120 to follow up an earlier 90 break.
Mark Williams played through the pain barrier to defeat Mark Joyce 4-1, with the recent British Open champion hobbling around the table as a result of gout.
Neil Robertson was one of the 13 top 16 ranked players to safely progress on Sunday as he whitewashed veteran Barry Pinches 4-0 with top breaks of 95 and 60.
Reigning World Champion Mark Selby swept aside amateur Mark Lloyd 4-1 with successive breaks of 101 and 112 to close out victory.
Jack Lisowski held his nerve in a last-frame decider to deny Ashley Hugill with a crucial 57 break to add to his earlier contributions of 69 and 137.
John Higgins safely saw off Leicester’s Joe O’Connor 4-2 despite a top break of just 59, while Masters Champion Yan Bingtao whitewashed Iran’s Hossein Vafaei with high breaks of 122 and 121.
Former World Champion Stuart Bingham defeated Ben Hancorn 4-1, as Stephen Maguire saw off Steven Hallworth 4-2 with breaks of 65, 67 and 75 along the way.
Kyren Wilson coasted to a 4-0 whitewash of Jamie Clarke, while Jordan Brown’s hopes of a strong run on home soil were prematurely ended in a 4-0 demolition at the hands of British Open finalist Gary Wilson.
Barry Hawkins overcame Ukrainian youngster Iulian Boiko 4-1, while Sam Craigie saw off Northern Ireland qualifier Robert McCullough by the same scoreline.
Northern Ireland Open 2021 Results
Sunday October 10
Stephen Maguire 4-2 Steven Hallworth
Stuart Bingham 4-1 Ben Hancorn
Yan Bingtao 4-0 Hossein Vafaei
Jack Lisowski 4-3 Ashley Hugill
John Higgins 4-2 Joe O’Connor
Mark Selby 4-1 Mark Lloyd
Mark Allen 4-1 Si Jiahui – *Allen makes a maximum break*
Robert McCullough 1-4 Sam Craigie
Neil Robertson 4-0 Barry Pinches
Judd Trump 4-1 Andrew Pagett
Kyren Wilson 4-0 Jamie Clarke
Gary Wilson 4-0 Jordan Brown
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-0 Stuart Carrington
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Iulian Boiko
Mark Williams 4-1 Mark Joyce