Daryl Gurney’s world bid gets off to a flying start
Daryl Gurney powered his way to a meeting with defending champion Gary Anderson at the World Championship at Alexandra Palace - then revealed he is counting down the days to Euro 2016 in France next summer.
The Ulsterman, known as Dude, had far too much in his locker for Welshman Jamie Lewis, taking control of the first round encounter in the £1.5million event to triumph 3-1.
The Boxing Day clash with Anderson holds no fears for the Londonderry arrow ace as he beat the world champion on his superb run to the Players Championship semi-final a fortnight ago when he was edged out by eventual winner and world number one Michael van Gerwen.
Gurney, who waltzes to the oche to 'Sweet Caroline', the song adopted by Northern Ireland's Green and White Army of fans, said: "I'd love to take a wee break from the darts and get to France for the Euro finals to support Northern Ireland. But there'll be plenty of darts before that and I'm looking forward to playing Gary Anderson.
"I have no fear of facing Gary, but I'm sure he has no fear of facing me either.
"Gary will do whatever he does and hopefully whatever I do will be good enough to win."
Gurney became the first man to reach round two at the world's biggest and longest fancy dress party - the final is on January 3 - with victory over world number 31 Lewis.
The world number 36 hit five 180s in an impressive success. He won three straight legs in a dominant first set before Lewis took the second 3-1. Gurney edged the third 3-2 before taking the fourth 3-1.
"I played well in the first set but then I went off my game a little bit so I was pleased to get over the line."
The 29-year-old added: "This is the greatest stage in darts with a great crowd and I've family and friends here to support me. If I play like I can in the next game then I'm confident it will be good enough to go further."
Anderson began his title defence with a 3-0 win over Andy Boulton, while there was also a whitewash for Peter Wright over Keegan Brown.
Ulster's other hopeful, Brendan Dolan, is in first round action tonight against Australia's Kyle Anderson.
"I've never actually played Kyle but I know him well from the circuit," said Dolan.
"It's a tough draw because Kyle is one of the best players outside the top 32," said the world number 18 who reached the final of the World Grand Prix in Dublin in 2011.
It was during his run to the final - won by Phil Taylor - that Dolan earned his nickname 'History Maker' as the first man to achieve a nine-dart finish in that tournament's unique double-in format.
But a piece of history the 42-year-old is even more excited by is becoming Ireland's first world darts champion.