Willie O’Connor will face fellow Irish man Daryl Gurney in the second-round of the PDC World Darts Championship after he comfortably disposed of Niels Zonneveld in their first-round clash earlier today.
In the first ever match between the two players, O’Connor proved too strong for his Dutch opponent. The Cappamore man easily claimed the first two sets with a 3-1 victory in both to go 2-0 up in a race to three. The World number 36 O’Connor also won the third and decisive set on a scoreline of 3-1 to ease into a mouth-watering tie with Gurney on Thursday afternoon.
11th seed Gurney will be the strong favourite heading into the all Irish affair, but 2019 World Cup finalist O’Connor will be hoping that a small improvement on his 88.42 average today will be enough to continue his run at darts’ showpiece event.
Elsewhere, Meath’s Keane Barry was unable to get the better of experienced Canadian Jeff Smith in his first-round tie. The 18-year-old, who was one of the youngest competitors at this year’s event, came back from an early 2-0 lead to make it 2-1 but the Canadian number one showed his experience in seeing out the game and claimed a deserved 3-1 victory.
Peter Wright began the defence of his crown with a defeat of England’s Steve West in an entertaining second-round tie. West caused some serious issues for the Scot and took the third set to make it 2-1. However, Wright, dressed in seasonal attire, showcased his array of skills in the final set, taking out a 101 and 71 before wrapping up the fourth leg of the fourth set to win 3-1.
This year’s event sees a record seven Irish players compete including Carlow’s Steve Lennon who begins his campaign on Saturday in a first-round tie with Sweden’s Daniel Larsson.