Events

NORTHERN IRELAND OPEN

Snooker’s Northern Ireland Open will be heading back to Belfast in November – and at a new venue.

The world ranking tournament took place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre last year, and this time it is moving to the Belfast Waterfront. It runs from November 20-26 with 128 of the world’s best players contesting the title. And tickets are on sale now.

Last year’s event was won by Mark King who beat Barry Hawkins 9-8 in a dramatic final to capture the Alex Higgins Trophy. Top stars including Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and home favourites Mark Allen and Joe Swail also competed.

Once again a stellar field of the sport’s top players expected to enter and battle for the title. The Northern Ireland Open, televised live by Eurosport, is the second of the season’s Home Nations series and carries a top prize of £70,000.

And any player winning all four Home Nations events will also earn a massive £1 million bonus. So October’s English Open winner will head to Belfast dreaming of that unprecedented prize.

Dublin’s Ken Doherty, the 1997 World Champion, is delighted to see the event move to the Waterfront. He said: “It really is a brilliant venue. I played a testimonial there with Alex Higgins after I won the world title. Before the match I went out with the trophy and the reception I got was wonderful. We packed it out and there were 2,500 people there, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. It was one of the greatest nights in my snooker career.

“The Northern Ireland Open is a great event on the calendar and it’s always good to have a tournament on home soil. It was very well supported last time out and I’m sure it will be again. Northern Ireland is steeped in snooker history, you had Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor and now have Mark Allen and Joe Swail. Belfast has a real enthusiasm for the sport and I am always very well supported when I play there.”