WATCH: Mark Allen named 'my hero' by talented teenager at Northern Ireland Open

Mark Allen is aiming to secure a third successive Northern Ireland Open crown. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Mark Allen is aiming to secure a third successive Northern Ireland Open crown. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

​Allen is aiming to wrap up a trophy treble on home soil and enjoyed a 4-0 victory over Belgium’s Ben Mertens on Sunday to kick off that bid.

His success included two half-century breaks to set up a second-round Monday date with Andres Petrov of Estonia.

Also on show at the Waterfront Hall showpiece is Northern Ireland-born amateur Robbie McGuigan.

Nineteen-year-old McGuigan, also from the Antrim area, posted three half-century breaks towards defeat of Muhammad Asif and he now takes on Anthony McGill in Tuesday’s next round of the high-profile tournament.

McGuigan – one of two wildcard entries into the NI Open, alongside Belfast’s 15-year-old Joel Connolly – called Allen ‘my hero’ in an interview shared across the World Snooker Tour social media platforms.

Allen, in turn, included the video on his social media with the message: “Absolutely love this kid.

"Hopefully just the beginning for him.

"I know better than most how hard he works and how talented he is.”

In the interview, McGuigan said: “He's my hero...I've said that before.

“I've watched him the last couple of years winning tournaments and if I ever get to that level I'll be very happy.

"He’s decided he’s going to be in my corner, he always gives me advice, he's never too harsh with me, he knows I sorta know what I'm doing now.

“He's always there on the sidelines watching, so it’s great.”

Another Northern Ireland player, Jordan Brown, produced a thrilling 4-1 victory over Australia’s Neil Robertson on Monday.

"I know what I'm capable of," Brown said to Eurosport's Alan McManus. "I'm really working hard on and off the table on a couple of things and it came to fruition today and no better place for it to happen."

Allen, as reported by the Eurosport website following his defeat of Mertens, described how “I’ve got better (at dealing with the pressure) over the years...I still feel really nervous when I go out there, I want to get that first win under my belt and get into the tournament."