SUPER TAYLOR’S DUBLIN DELIGHT WITH TENTH PARTYPOKER.COM WORLD GRAND PRIX WIN
PHIL TAYLOR won his tenth PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix title, defeating Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan 6-3 at the New Citywest Convention Centre on Sunday night.
Taylor’s dominance of the double-start tournament continued as he won back the £100,000 title in style to claim his third successive major, as he followed up the summer’s triumphs in the World Matchplay and European Championship.
Gritty star Dolan had hit a historic nine-darter in Saturday’s semi-final win over reigning champion James Wade, but was unable to repeat the feat as Taylor won his tenth title since the World Grand Prix was introduced in 1998.
Although Dolan won the opening leg, hitting a 180 to the delight of the Dublin crowd, Taylor won the first set 3-1, hitting a brace of double eight finishes as well as producing a whitewash of his opponent with a 12-dart leg as the Northern Irish ace missed nine opening doubles.
Dolan opened the second set with a 160 score, but Taylor fired in a 180 in taking the first leg and also took the next two to double his lead, before finishing 101 to lead in the third with a seventh successive leg.
Dolan, though, hit scores of 180 and 140 in levelling and broke in leg three, before double eight gave him the set to halve the deficit.
Taylor hit double eight and a 120 finish to lead 2-0 in the fourth set, but Dolan brought the Dublin crowd to its feet with a superb 170 checkout in the third.
He also hit a 180 in taking the fourth to level, but was unable to edge a tense deciding leg as Taylor posted double 18 to move 3-1 up.
The fifth set also went to a deciding leg, with Taylor leading 2-1 before Dolan punished two missed darts for the set to force another decider, which he won with an 86 finish after the Englishman missed the bull for a 124 checkout.
Dolan continued to battle despite going 2-0 down in the next, hitting double ten and an 84 finish to level and give himself a chance to square the contest.
But he missed three opening doubles in the fifth leg, with Taylor capitalising through a 160 start and a 171 score before finishing double ten for a 13-darter to take a 4-2 sets lead.
Dolan hit a 180 and double seven to lead in the seventh, but Taylor took out 100 with a pair of double tops in the second, hit a 171 in taking the third and then finished 85 on double six to move a set away from the title.
Dolan led 2-0 in the eighth, finishing a pressure 81 in the first leg before finishing 124 on the bull – but Taylor gave himself a sniff of victory by winning the next two to level, firstly edging a scrappy third on double one before finishing 81 himself after trading 180s with the home favourite.
However, Taylor uncharacteristically missed 11 starting doubles in the set’s deciding leg, allowing Dolan to finish 61 for a 14-darter to win his third set.
Dolan produced a brilliant 11-darter to lead in the ninth set, and after Taylor took out tops in the second he hit a tenth maximum of the game, only to see the world number one finish 83 on the bull to lead 2-1 and move to the brink of victory, which was sealed on tops in the next leg.
“It’s brilliant to win this title again,” said Taylor. “I went throught a wide range of emotions during the game and it was a huge relief to win it in the end.
“At first I thought I’d win 6-0 because he was hitting nothing but then he clicked and the 180s started going in. It was hard work for me tonight but I had to remind myself ‘I’m a champion’ and keep trying to hit him back.
“If it had gone three-all it could have been a different game, and I kept trying to put him under pressure but he coped with it well and there was a brilliant 11-darter there, as well as his cracking 170 finish.
“I’m very proud of Brendan and pleased for him. He’s going to be a handful now and he’s believing in his ability, and put that into practice this week.”
Taylor added: “This title means a huge amount to me. There was a time when I thought I might not win another title again.
“I was struggling a bit last year and people were writing me off but I keep bouncing back. I’m targeting the Grand Slam of Darts next and then building for the World Championship – I’m after getting those trophies back!”
Dolan picked up £40,000 as runner-up, plus a £5,000 bonus for his nine-dart finish, and will also receive an invitation to compete in next month’s Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton after reaching his first major final.
“It’s been a brilliant week,” said Dolan, a former decorator who now moves into the world’s top 32 for the first time. “I’m over the moon to have reached the final.
“After the nine-darter in the semi-finals I had to knuckle down and stay focussed against James and I’m proud of how I kept going and defeated him.
“Nobody likes getting beaten but I’d have bitten off your hand at the start of the week if you said I’d be in the final. Tonight was maybe a step too far but I’m over the moon to have done so well because my form this year hasn’t been great this year.
“I’ve knuckled down, analysed my throw, changed things and it worked for me. Phil’s always changing things to make himself a better player and that inspired me – he’s a genuis.
“The crowd this week have been phenomenal and they’ve pushed me through, they’ve been like an extra dart when I needed it most.”
FINNAN WINS TOM KIRBY MEMORIAL IRISH MATCHPLAY FINAL
CONNIE FINNAN won the 2011 Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final against Shane O’Connor with a 6-4 triumph on Sunday night.
Limerick’s Finnan, 49, will now proceed to compete on darts’ biggest stage in the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship in December, where he will line up in the preliminary round of that event.
Having won through the early stages of the Irish Matchplay event six weeks ago, including a win over Cappamore’s William O’Connor in the semis, he joined Tallaght’s Shane O’Connor on stage at the New Citywest Convention Centre for the final.
Finnan settled any early nerves with a 180 in the opening leg, which he took in 15 darts to break throw on double 16 before a double eight finish saw him move two legs up.
O’Connor posted a 106 checkout to win the third, and shared the next two legs as Finnan moved into a 3-2 lead.
Finnan added a third maximum of the game and a 74 finish to win the sixth, with O’Connor producing a fine 12-darter to level with a 94 checkout.
He also hit a 180 in the next, but missed the bull for an 81 checkout to level as Finnan took out double 16 to move a leg away from glory.
O’Connor finished 85 to keep the match alive, but missed double ten for a 140 checkout in the tenth leg, and double 16 from Finnan ensured victory.
The tournament is named in memory of the late Tom Kirby, a former professional darts player from Ireland who passed away in 2008, with the trophy presented by his widow Anne Kirby at the Citywest Hotel on Sunday night.