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World of Sport

20th Dec 2018

When the four islanders of Ireland are throwing next

Niall McIntyre

Only one man has managed a maximum, 170 checkout in the World Darts Championships so far this year.

That man is a Fermanagh man, his name is Brendan Dolan and he’s still bopping along to the swings and arrows of Ally Pally this Christmas.

Those swings come around often and those arrows cut through the air fast but darts is all the better for its unrelenting speed because that means there’s never any time for anything else to even dream about taking the attention away from the Alexander palace and its oche, the faces, the darts and the dartboard at this time of the year.

And this year, the islanders of Ireland are at the heart of all of that attention.

Limerick’s Willie O’Connor is probably the most lauded of the lot seeing as it was him who won first and seeing as it’s been him who’s mocking the odds. On Wednesday night, he showed fire, bottle and steel in his tricolour shirt to make it to the third, as far as he’s ever gotten here, and the look of sheer determination scrawled across his face before every double landed and after every treble missed pulls everyone in.

It’s obvious how much this all means to him.

Derry’s Daryl Gurney is a highly fancied fifth seed and he’ll always give spectators a run for their money.

Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan is 46 now but he played the darts of his life on Wednesday and in his 11th World Darts Championships, he’s not asking why, he’s asking why not.

Carlow’s Steve Lennon meanwhile is a rising star of the game and he feels it’s about time he made his breakthrough. We’ll be following him.

Thursday December 20, 1.45

Steve Lennon v Alan Norris

Thursday afternoon, 1.45 and a man from Carlow is at the centre of the world for three sets. He took out Australia’s James Bailey fairly handily on Tuesday night and he’s bidding to add an Englishman, in Alan Norris to the list two days on. He’s the 8/15 favourite to join the rest of the lads in Round Three and to keep this Irish hype train rolling.

Saturday December 22, afternoon session

Daryl Gurney v Jamie Lewis, 3.15

Gurney is the 4/11 favourite to beat last year’s semi-finalist, underlining just how highly rated the Derry man is. He’s under no illusions though and he’s ready for a battle.

Willie O’Connor v Mensor Suljovic/Ryan Searle, 4.00

Munster’s finest will find out who he’s up against on Thursday but no matter who he’s facing, he’ll be rearing to throw. He’ll be the underdog again but you can think again if you think that bothers him.

Sunday December 23, afternoon session

Brendan Dolan v Mervyn King/Jan Decker

The eve of Christmas ever and there’s no place Brendan Dolan would rather be. The Belcoo man takes on the winner of King and Decker to make it further than he ever has before.

Overall odds

And if you’re feeling really chancy, here’s the odds for one of the four to do the ultimate.

Daryl Gurney 20/1

Brendan Dolan 200/1

Willie O’Connor 200/1

Steve Lennon 300/1

There’s no better place for it.