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18th Dec 2018

“I am lost for words at the moment. I will try what I can to come back next year.”

Niall McIntyre

That’s two darting legends gone at the very first hurdle.

If Peter Wright’s shock defeat on Sunday night wasn’t enough to turn the darting world upside down, Raymond van Barnevald delivered the final push on Monday.

The Dutch legend was out of sorts from the word go in his opening round clash against Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas in the last match of the day and he was ultimately punished for his inertia.

And it’s another good man gone.

Barney lost the first set in four legs and though he fought back to close out the second with a 72 checkout, he never really looked himself on the Ally Pally oche as double after double attempt landed outside the wires for the Dutchman – by the end of the match he’d missed 28 doubles.

Labanauskas, the world number 108, wasn’t exactly prolific either and that was the only thing keeping the five time champ alive in this one but eventually something had to give with Lucky D taking the fifth set to send Barney home.

The loss will be tough to take for the 51-year-old, the manner of it even tougher but he was still his usually classy self afterwards.

“I wish all the best to Darius Labanauskus for the rest of the tournament. He deserved the win,” he tweeted.

And though it was his initial plan to call it a day after this year, a recent U-turn on that decision means that Barney will do his best to give it one more lash next year, much to the delight of darts fans far and wide.

Barney is one of the greatest ever players to hold a dart and in a game of often boorish, overstated competitiveness, he always comes across a sporting gentleman.

At least this won’t be the last we get to see of him.

“I will try what I can to come back next year,” he continued.

Elsewhere, there is plenty of Irish interest in the darts this evening with Carlow’s Steve Lennon and Derry’s fifth seed, Superchin Daryl Gurney both in action in the non-stop disco that is Alexander Palace at Christmas.