LONDON: Mark Allen said he felt "calmer as the match went on" after seeing off the challenge of a spirited Kyren Wilson to seal his first Masters title with a 10-7 victory at London's Alexandra Palace.
The world number eight was matched for much of Sunday's contest by his fellow first-time finalist before edging away to lift the Paul Hunter trophy and pocket £200,000 (US$278,000) in prize money.
It was 40 years since Alex Higgins won his first Masters title and Northern Ireland's Allen, who beat former champions Ronnie O'Sullivan and John Higgins on his way to the final, followed in the footsteps of his countryman after a marathon match lasting five hours and 14 minutes.
Allen, who put on a Northern Ireland football shirt for his post-match press conference, said: "Weirdly, I felt calmer as the match went on, I felt more at ease with myself.
"You're never going to win one of these Triple Crown events easily and that was the test, it would have been easy to crumble."
"It means so much to me, that's what I play the game for. It would've been devastating to get so close and not win it so very, very pleased," he added.
The match was arguably the biggest contest in the careers of both men and the nerves showed across two edgy and even sessions.
Wilson, the first player born in the 1990s to appear in a Triple Crown final, had never won a match at the invitational tournament before this year and he threatened to complete a remarkable story before falling agonisingly short.
After a close-fought battle, a 73 from Allen followed by a sensational 119 - the first century of the match - and another 50 finally gave the 31-year-old daylight at 8-5 as Wilson began to make too many mistakes.
But the 26-year Englishman cut the deficit to a single frame before running out of steam, with Allen clinching the two frames required before celebrating with a fist pump.