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Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Sunday, 31 August 2008 22:23 UK

Classy O'Sullivan wins NI Trophy

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan has battled personal troubles to return to the top

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan found his stunning top gear to crush Stoke underdog Dave Harold 9-3 and claim the Northern Ireland Trophy in Belfast.

In doing so "The Rocket" became the first player for four years to win back-to-back ranking titles.

World number 28 Harold won the opening frame of the match, but O'Sullivan, 32, raced into a five-frame lead.

Harold fared little better in the evening session as O'Sullivan sealed the first ranking event of the season.

I wanted to blow away a few cobwebs at this tournament, but to win it is a nice bonus

Ronnie O'Sullivan

After recording the 21st ranking title of his career, in which he posted breaks of 68, 103, 84, 76, 64 and 50 to triumph, O'Sullivan played down his performance.

"I played OK in patches and I was decent in patches," he said. "I got on top of Dave after the first frame, but the first four frames tonight I wasn't there.

"I wanted to blow away a few cobwebs at this tournament, but to win it is a nice bonus.

"I'm still working on a few things technically, but there's still a few things I can improve on."

Harold, 41, whose last title came 15 years ago when he won the 1993 Asian Open, now moves up to number 14 in the rankings after his successful run in Belfast.

"I started well, won the first frame and then I could have won the second frame," he said. "But I let it slip after that.

"Ronnie's a class player, he punishes you every time you make a mistake.

"As a pure player and a entertainer, he's the best ever. Hopefully it won't be another 15 years until my next final."

Result: Dave Harold (Eng) 3-9 Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)

Frame scores (Harold first): 63-14 44-68 (68) 17-127 (103) 0-84 (84) 44-87 13-84 60-76 (76) 76-41 19-73 (64) 54-61 88-0 (81) 22-80 (50)

see also
Northern Ireland Trophy results
30 Aug 08 |  Snooker
Hendry humbled by Lee in Belfast
26 Aug 08 |  Snooker
White suffers first-round defeat
25 Aug 08 |  Snooker
Stevens out but Williams through
24 Aug 08 |  Snooker
NI Trophy set for Belfast return
21 May 08 |  Snooker

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