Northern Ireland Open: Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Joe Perry set up final with Judd Trump

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump will meet in the final of the Northern Ireland Open after The Rocket eased past Joe Perry 6-1 in their semi-final in Belfast.

Sunday's showpiece will provide snooker fans with the clash they have been craving all season, a repeat of last year's final at the Waterfront Hall and the final of The Masters in January.

Trump proved victorious on both occasion but O'Sullivan gained his revenge when overturning a 6-2 and 7-4 deficit in the semi-finals of the Tour Championship, coming out on the right side of a pulsating deciding frame when potting the final black along the bottom cushion before punching his chest in delight.

As Trump spent the dying embers of that campaign and the beginning of the new season firmly establishing himself as the dominant force in the sport, claiming the number one ranking in the process, O'Sullivan's shadow has continued to loom large and his victory in Shanghai in September was a stark reminder of the threat he still holds when fully focused.

Ronnie O'Sullivan lifts his seventh UK Championship title
Ronnie O'Sullivan

While not quite at his best since, he has made seamless progress in Belfast, looking determined to make his mark by claiming a record 37th ranking title.

Should he reach the milestone, O'Sullivan would surely prove beyond doubt that he is greatest player to ever the grace the green baize but standing in his way is Trump, currently the best player in the world and someone whose relentless pursuit to reach the heights scaled by the likes of O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry have seen him reach his third final in as many weeks.

The World Open winner and Champion of Champions runner-up will now bid to claim back-to-back Northern Ireland Open titles having seen off John Higgins on Saturday afternoon while O'Sullivan's final hurdle to the final was even more comfortable, a 6-1 mauling of Joe Perry.

O'Sullivan looked sharp from the off, striking the ball crisply as he raced to 58 in the opening frame before an apparently perfect split on the reds from the blue saw a loose red roll into the bottom corner pocket.

Perry couldn't capitalise, however, and when O'Sullivan won the second frame courtesy of an extraordinary fluke when snookered by five balls on the yellow, an early finish was already on the cards.

Perry's woes were compounded when he made a number of unforced errors in frames three and four and O'Sullivan wasted little time in extending his lead to 4-0, breaks of 54 and 72 ensuring he went to the mid-session interval in complete control.

A further break of 90 immediately upon the resumption put O'Sullivan within touching distance of the final and although Perry managed to get a frame on the board when winning frame six, he was merely delaying the inevitable as O'Sullivan wrapped up his 6-1 victory with a silky run of 71.

All eyes will now turn to Sunday's blockbuster clash between the two heavyweights of the sport. For O'Sullivan, 37 in the magic number while for Trump, this is about more than just another title.

His semi-final defeat of Higgins certainly suggested a changing of the guard; one of the all time great players and a member of that famous class of 92 now having been beaten in his last three meetings with Trump.

If Trump can conquer O'Sullivan, another from the class of 92, the greatest mountain of them all will have been scaled and victory would surely mean the crowning of a new undisputed King in the sport.

As for O'Sullivan, a 43-year-old in the twilight of a quite astonishing career, this may prove to be one final act of defiance; the opportunity to remind us all that his greatness wasn't just from yesteryear and that it is he who is still King.

Northern Ireland Open: Saturday's schedule

Saturday November 16
Afternoon session (1300 GMT)
TV coverage: Eurosport

  • Judd Trump 6-3 John Higgins

Saturday November 16
Evening session (1900 GMT)
TV coverage: Eurosport

  • Joe Perry 1-6 Ronnie O'Sullivan

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