The 2018 World Cup of Darts
By: Irish Darts Fan
Many people's favourite event of the year, the PDC World Cup of Darts took place in Frankfurt this weekend, and what a tournament it was! From Japan's darting stars to the German home heroes, the tournament had it all, well, except for a surprise winner. Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld of The Netherlands won in Frankfurt to retain their crown as odds on favourites, defeating Scotland 3-1 in a thrilling final. The Irish contingency was also making its presence felt in Germany, with Steve Lennon, Willie O'Connor, Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan all representing their respective countries. They did the country proud, putting in fantastic displays, with each one going down to the wire.
You think the World Cup doesn't provide some high drama? Look at tis shot of Belgium's Kim Huybrechts backstage. Can't even watch his partner. Belgium beat England in a doubles decider.
"The pundits were calling this the tie of the round!"
I'll start off with the Northern Irish team of Brendan Dolan and Daryl Gurney. Brendan had plenty to cheer about, with Fermanagh reaching their first Ulster final since 2008, but that wasn't his first worry. The pair were handed a very difficult Round 1 draw against Poland, and what a match it was. Brendan and Daryl missed darts at doubles in the first leg, which gave the Polish pairing of Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik confidence to push on. Brendan and Daryl hung in though, with Gurney taking out some crucial shots to keep the game alive. At 4-2, he took out a massive 70 before levelling the match at 4-4.
Clutch Darts! Down 4-3 against Poland, Gurney shot 174 to leave 16 in the 8th leg... ...AND YES! Dolan nailed it!
Brendan threw a brilliant 134 to leave Daryl on 101 with Kanik waiting on 85. Daryl went 19-Bull-D16 to complete a famous victory and spark wild celebrations. An amazing shot under pressure, the 2 had earned their spot in Round 2.
Dramatic Scenes! Gurney after hs 101 checkout in the deciding leg & his subsequent tweet!
Unfortunately, it wasn't about to get any easier. Who was next, but the home favourites Germany with Martin Schindler and 'The Maximiser' Max Hopp. Daryl was out first against Martin Schindler, with 'Superchin' proving much too good, a 4-0 victory putting Northern Ireland 1 up. Next up was Brendan with the unenviable task of defeating the crowd's idol, Max Hopp. Brendan went 1-0 ahead, before Hopp reeled off 3 straight legs. The German missed 3 match darts at 3-1, before Brendan cleaned up 48 and threw a gutsy leg to level at 3 a piece. Eventually, it was down to Brendan to send the team through with a 64 finish. A triple 7 followed by a 19 left him with Double 12 which he agonisingly wired, to let Hopp take the match 4-3. It was a fabulous effort from Dolan, considering the boo boys were at him throughout the match.
So it came down to the doubles, Hopp and Schindler vs Dolan and Gurney. Neither player fully got going for Northern Ireland and unfortunately, it was the Germans who went through 4-2. A disappointing loss for the boys, but it was a fabulous effort with the crowd going wild with every poor dart thrown. A Last 16 run was 1 dart from being the quarter finals, but it wasn't to be and Daryl and Brendan will come home with their heads held high.
The Republic of Ireland
The Walk On! Willie O'Connor & Steve Lennon get set to face Dimitri van den Bergh, Kim Huybrechts & Belgium.
Representing the Republic Ireland in Germany were Steve Lennon and Willie O'Connor. Steve was making his World Cup debut, but it was Willie's 8th appearance, one of the few ever presents at the tournament. The 2 got a horrific Round 1 draw, coming up against Belgium, a team consisting of Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri van den Bergh.
The pundits were calling it the tie of the round, and it certainly did not disappoint. Ireland burst into a 3-0 lead, breaking the throw twice to get to the verge of winning. The Belgians fought back though, but at 4-2 it looked all over when Willie was left on 48. Van den Bergh had 130 to save the match, and save the match he did, hitting the Bullseye to break the lads' hearts. Belgium took the next leg comfortably, before a fabulous decider. Steve and Willie threw 331 points in 9 darts to leave 170, but having thrown the same, Dimitri threw a brilliant set up to leave Huybrechts on 36 if he returned. Willie O'Connor had to take out 170 to win the match. He threw a Triple 20 followed by another to leave the possibility of the greatest ever winning shot in a World Cup, before missing the bull. An unbelievable effort from O'Connor.
That Close! O'Connor misses the bullseye for a last leg 170 checkout. Steve Lennon reacts in disbelief!
Kim took out 36 with his last dart to break everyone's hearts. Neither team deserved to lose, but unfortunately, it was Ireland. A cracking game, the lads leave with their heads held firmly high.
'Player of the Week'
This week, it would be unfair to name a Player of the Week. Everyone performed brilliantly under incredible scrutiny and did themselves and Ireland proud. The award is shared this week! I will not give a match of the week either, as each one was brilliant in its own right. We were treated to 3 brilliant games, well done fellas! While typing this, I have heard of the expansion of the World Championships from 72 to 96 players. This is brilliant news for the Irish players, as it means there will be a huge representation in Ally Pally next December. Daryl Gurney will qualify as a seed, while Steve and Mickey Mansell are qualified as some of the Pro Tour Top 32. As of now, Brendan is well inside the Top 32, with Willie O'Connor and Jason Cullen not far outside. At this moment, there are 4 qualifiers for December. To add to that, the winner of the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay will also earn a spot, meaning at least 5 players will be involved. Coupled with the top 2 on the Development Tour (Nathan Rafferty is 3rd) and 2 PDPA qualifiers (potentially Kevin Burness), there could be a huge representation. It is 6 months away, but already I can't wait! That's all from a frantic week of darts. Some amazing games, but it's back to the Euro Tour next week, as Brendan, Steve and Daryl head to Gibraltar.
I've said my part, but for now...
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Irish Darts Fan Published!
Great article in the Irish Examiner by our very own @IrishDartsFan, as he profiled the Republic of Ireland's chances at the World Cuo of Darts. Good stuff mate!
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The Netherland shave done it again! Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld win the 2018 World Cup of Darts!
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Loving the Darts on the Emerald Isle!
Matt, the 'Irish Darts Fan,' is an avid follower of the tungsten pays particular attention to his fellow countrymen. News, statistics and player quotes. From O'Connor to Lennon to Dolan, darts in Ireland has nothing to do with luck, it's about the Skill of the Irish baby!
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