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Mark Allen eyes up Masters defence after taking Scottish Open crown

Mark Allen came from behind to topple Shaun Murphy in Sunday's Scottish Open final. Picture by PA

ANTRIM'S Mark Allen has his sights set on defending his Masters title next month after seeing off Shaun Murphy in Sunday's Scottish Open final.

‘The Pistol' made a huge breakthrough when he defeated Kyren Wilson to take the Masters crown last year, and heads into that tournament full of confidence after his weekend success.

A week after losing the UK Championship final to Ronnie O'Sullivan, Allen came from behind to edge past Murphy, playing some superb snooker to take the last three frames.

“It feels really good,” said the 32-year-old.

“At 7-6 down I produced some good snooker to go 8-7 up, made a couple of good breaks and I scored reasonably well when I got in throughout the whole match.

“Shaun potted some great individual long balls and dominated the long game, both potting and safety, but he didn't quite score the way he normally does and I always felt I was going to get a chance here and there, even if I was 40 or 50 down.

“Shaun will probably be ruing a few missed chances because his long game was ridiculously good today and he created a lot of opportunities for himself that he didn't quite muster into frame-winning chances.

“I was there to pick up the scraps at 7-6 and made a couple of good breaks myself and got over the line with a good break in the last, aided by a fluke.”

Tied 6-6 at the mid-session interval, Allen opted against following his own lead from 24 hours earlier.

In the semi-final, the world number six battled back from 4-0 and 5-2 down to claim a 6-5 win over Welshman Daniel Wells – who was playing in his first ranking semi-final - before saying: "I don't deserve to be in the final".

Allen was critical of his own approach to the tournament, remarking that he had "disrespected" the world ranking event.

He could only manage a top break of 24 in the opening four frames in Saturday's last four clash and later admitted that, instead of going to the practice table, he had a couple of drinks during the interval.

There was to be repeat on Sunday, however, as some quality time spent with daughter Lauren helped get him back on track when it mattered.

“There was no Magners had this time around,” he said.

“It was time with my little girl, a run around the players' lounge with her here, just kept her occupied for 15 minutes.

“I haven't seen her in so long, I only saw her for an hour or two last week at the UK final. I miss her a lot and she misses me obviously with her reaction when I walk in and it actually completely relaxed me.

“[Before] I felt under pressure, I wasn't winning any frames, I was being outplayed Shaun won three on the spin without me potting a ball… I didn't feel part of the game from 6-3 to 6-6 and I felt really relaxed then after that.”

And with the defence of his Masters title next on the agenda, Allen will enjoy Christmas before travelling to London's iconic Alexandra Palace (January 13-20) with a spring in his step.

“My confidence should be sky high but we all know how good every player is when it comes to the Masters.

“It's the top 16 players in the world, there are no easy matches and I'll need to go there and perform to my very best.”

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