Mark Allen tongight claimed the 2018 Masters title after a hard fought 10-7 final victory over Kyren Wilson.
Allen,the world no.8 has been the standout player here all week,making the stage his own with some fabulous displays in the previous rounds and again doing so today when it mattered most.
The match itself wont go down as a classic in terms of quality ,but boy did both these players battle hard,neither leaving anything on the table.
A close match was always on the cards you felt and with the first session shared at 4-4,we were set tonight for a grandstand finish.
Here it was Wilson who struck first,winning lengthy first of the session to go 5-4,but Allen seemed to settle into rhythm the quicker, taking the next three to the interval to lead 7-5.
When he also took the next in two scoring visits,it looked as though he might run away with it,but Wilson showed against Trump yesterday that he relishes a battle & bravely fought back to within one again at 8-7.
Allen though would not be denied & he took the next two to seal a famous 10-7 win.
In doing so,he became the third player from Northern Ireland,after Alex Higgins & Denis Taylor to lift the masters title & the fact its 40 years after Higgins did it makes it all the more special for him.
As for Wilson,he showed again here this week just what a talent he is and also what a dedicated professional he is.He also just seems like a real nice fella and you hope this experience will push him to the next level in the sport,competing for titles on a regular basis
The final word must go to Mark Allen though.I have stated on many occasions that I thought The Masters was the Major he had the best chance of winning,but over the years he has been unlucky to so often lose narrowly to players playing at their absolute peak.Listening to his podcast interview with Dave Hendon during the week,he talked about the ease with which he won his first ranking final & how in a way, he'd have preferred it to go close to see how he could withstand the pressure. Well tonight,on one of the games biggest stages he did just that & who is to say this wont be the victory to catapult him to the very top of the game.