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Pro-am boost for York darts
THREE-TIME World Championship finalist Tony O’Shea is hoping the York Darts Promotions Pro-am Grand Finals night can become a regular event in the sport’s calendar.
O’Shea, runner-up in the 2009, 2012 and 2013 BDO finals at Lakeside, was one of eight professionals who entertained a packed Huntington WMC, alongside eight regional qualifiers, during the inaugural staging of the event.
The Pro-am pairs tournament was won by Huddersfield-based current BDO world number three James Wilson and amateur qualifier Colin Hendry, from Ferrybridge.
Middlesbrough’s Glenn Durrant, a member of England’s World Cup-winning team in Canada at the weekend, went on to beat BDO world number one Stephen Bunting 3-2 in the final of the Pro-challenge, which was contested between the professionals.
O’Shea thrilled the audience with a maximum 170 finish, as well as a 12-dart leg, which was the joint-quickest of the night along with others thrown by two-time World Championship semi-finalist Darryl Fitton, Bunting and Wilson.
A total of 23 maximum 180s were also thrown, including seven in a terrific quarter-final encounter between Fitton and Bunting, with O’Shea, nicknamed “Silverback”, arguing that the quality of the darts was influenced by the enthusiasm of the 300-strong crowd.
The YDP rigged up two big screens for the event, while a walk-on girl and music heralded each player’s arrival on to the stage, prompting an impressed O’Shea to say: “The crowd were brilliant.
“People around here are darts mad and Yorkshire is definitely the best county for darts bar none. Even though we were still playing after midnight and people had work the next morning not many left and the atmosphere they generated was reflected in the standard of the darts.
“The players react to the noise and it produced some unbelievable darts that would have graced television screens. It was a great turnout at a great venue and we had a great night.
“The stage set-up was fantastic and the big screens were perfect. I would love to be invited back again and the timing was right as well because it was a good warm-up for the Winmau World Masters in Hull.”
Bunting, who threw six perfect darts at the start of one leg, led the 180 roll call with seven, followed by the likes of Wilson (six), Fitton (four), Garry Robson (four), Robbie Green (one) and O’Shea (one).
Along with his 170, O’Shea also claimed a 150 finish with other ton-plus checkouts thrown by Wilson (160), Durrant (133) and Green (120) and, as well as the 12-dart efforts from O’Shea, Bunting, Fitton and Wilson, there were other short legs from Bunting (13, 14), Durrant (13, 15, 15), Fitton (13), Green (15), O’Shea (13, 14), Wilson (14, 14) and Robson (15).
Robson and York’s Steve Wade, meanwhile, threw the best pairs’ leg of the night in 14 darts with finalists Bunting and Bridlington’s Steve Rice and Wilson and Hendry both checking out in one dart more.
Adding his praise for the amateur players, who all threw ton-plus scores during the night, O’Shea added: “Some of the boys were a bit nervous because it’s different when you get on that stage, under the lights and with the cameras on you. As professionals, we are more used to that but there were some good performances and you only had to watch the lads in the practice area to see what good players they are.”
Joining Hendry, Rice and Steve Wade as the evening’s amateurs were York quartet Ian Atkins, Shaun Day, Trevor Day and Quentin McMaster, as well as Thorpe Willoughby’s Stuart Limbert.
All eight players are regulars on the YDP’s growing circuit which O’Shea believes is testament to the efforts of events organiser Neil Hart.
He said: “Neil is so dedicated to darts and works really hard. He puts a lot off effort into York and Yorkshire darts so we were all delighted to come and help him out.
“He put a great show on and he wants the pro-am stuff to carry on and get bigger and better and I think that can happen.”
York Darts Promotions Pro-am Quarter-finals:
Robson/Wade 3, M Atkins/McMaster 2 (Robson 1, McMaster 0; Atkins 1, Wade 0; Robson/Wade 2, Atkins/McMaster 0; McMaster 1, Wade 0; Robson 1, Atkins 0); Bunting/Rice 3, Fitton/I Atkins 1 (Fitton 1, Rice 0; Bunting 1, Atkins 0; Bunting/Rice 2, Fitton/Atkins 0; Rice 1 Atkins 0); Wilson/Hendry 3, Durrant/S Day 2 (Wilson 1, Day 0; Durrant 1, Hendry 0; Durrant/Day 2, Wilson/Hendry 1; Hendry 1, Day 0; Wilson 1, Durrant 0); Green/Limbert 3, O’Shea/T Day 1 (Green 1, Day 0; O’Shea 1, Limbert 0; Green/Limbert 2, O’Shea/Day 0; Limbert 1, Day 0).
Semi-finals: Bunting/Rice 3, Robson/Wade 1; Wilson/Hendry 3, Green/Limbert 0.
Final: Wilson/Hendry 3, Bunting/Rice 2.
YDP Pro-challenge Quarter-finals: Durrant 3, Robson 2; O’Shea 3, M Atkins 2; Wilson 3, Green 1; Bunting 3, Fitton 2.
Semi-finals: Durrant 3, O’Shea 0; Bunting 3, Wilson 2.
Final: Durrant 3, Bunting 2.
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