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Mark Allen v Ricky Walden live stream | Northern Ireland Open 2021 preview

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Magnificent Mark Allen dethrones Judd Trump at the Northern Ireland Open

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John Higgins v Yan Bingtao live stream | Northern Ireland Open 2021 preview

Allen and Walden vie for a place in Sunday’s final (Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/PA Images)

Home favourite Mark Allen locks horns with Ricky Walden for a place in this year’s Northern Ireland Open final on Saturday.

The two players have met on 17 previous occasions – with Walden prevailing on 10 of those – and this will be their latest showdown on the big stage at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Walden was a 10-7 winner when they collided in the 2014 International Championship showpiece, while Allen exacted his revenge with a 10-6 triumph in the Players Championship Grand Final two years later.

So far, it has been a hugely successful week for Allen, who has compiled a maximum break and defeated Stephen Maguire and Judd Trump to reach the semi-finals here for the first time.

The Pistol produced a remarkable turnaround to dethrone three-time reigning champion Trump in the last eight, recovering from 3-0 down for a 5-3 victory that ended the Ace’s 25-match winning streak in the event.

He would love to provide further delight for his home fans by claiming a second Home Nations title on Sunday, adding to his 2018 Scottish Open triumph.

As for Walden, this is his first appearance in a ranking event semi-final since the 2016 China Open.

The world number 29 has enjoyed a welcome return to form this season, having also reached the last eight of the British Open in August.

Like Allen, he produced an inspired comeback in the quarter-finals, overturning a 3-1 deficit before defeating Shaun Murphy with a brilliant 91 clearance in a deciding frame.

The lowest-ranked player remaining in the competition, he has now reached double figures in terms of ranking event semi-final appearances, while this also marks his best-ever performance at a Home Nations tournament.

Play gets underway at 1pm on Saturday with the match contested over the best of 11 frames at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The winner will play either John Higgins or Yan Bingtao in Sunday’s final.