Wednesday, June 12, 2019

By Harry Shorthose

CARLOW town’s Steve Lennon and team-mate Willie O’Connor from Limerick, representing Ireland, turned in a series of huge performances to go all the way to the final of the World Cup of Darts in Hamburg, Germany at the weekend, only losing out to Scottish pair Gary Anderson and Peter Wright in Sunday evening’s decider.

The adventure started on Thursday evening when they ran out comfortable 5-1 winners over Greece. Lennon got them off to a great start but with Greece missing their doubles, O’Connor was able to finish the job to set up a second-round tie against the top seeds, England, represented by world number two Rob Cross and world number six Michael Smith.

An incredible display from the pair on Saturday night saw them beat the English 2-0. Lennon was first up to face Smith in his singles match and in a tight and tense match, he won 4-3, hitting the bullseye twice to produce the upset. This put the pressure on Cross to overcome O’Connor to take it to a final doubles leg decider. However, he crumbled under the pressure as O’Connor was in the form of his life to win 4-1 and set up a quarter-final against Austria.

The giant killing continued on Sunday afternoon. Anstria took the game to a deciding doubles leg but Lennon set things up initially, leaving O’Connor to finish off the win.

Next in line were the fancied Dutch featuring the number one player in the world Michael van Gerwen.

Lennon was out first in the semi-final and faced the daunting task of taking on van Gerwen. Both players held their throw with Van Gerwen easing into a 2-1 lead after three legs. In a ding-dong battle, the Dutch man broke Lennon’s throw to claim a 3-1 lead before Lennon fought back to 3-3. However Van Gerwen clinched the deciding leg.

O’Connor beat Jermaine Wattimena 4-1 to level the tie and force a doubles decider where the Irish pair ran out 4-0 winners, Lennon in particular proving to be on form hitting big trebles to knock out the fourth seeds and set up a final.

In front of a boisterous Sunday evening crowd Lennon took on Gary Andreson in the first game and the Carlow man clinched a win which included a 110 check-out.

Peter Wright beat O’Connor comfortably to level the tie. Scotland won the ensuing doubles match to take a 2-1 lead in the tie. With the pressure on, Lennon needed to beat Wright to level the tie once more and bring it to the final leg. It wasn’t to be at the title went to Scotland.

However, the Irish pair won’t be too distraught as they took some huge scalps en route to the country’s first ever World Cup of Darts final.

Lennon himself will be encouraged by his performance as he beat the world number six and number three before driving the world number one close and he will undoubtedly take confidence from his performance.

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