Ulster duo on target for glory
Daryl Gurney is relishing the chance to send defending champion Gary Anderson tumbling out of the World Championship. Gurney stunned Anderson with victory at the Players Championship a fortnight ago live on ITV and the Ulsterman is confident he can repeat the dose in the biggest tournament of the lot.
But first the Londonderry thrower must get past Jamie Lewis in tonight's first round of the £1.5million showpiece at Alexandra Palace in London.
"I would love to play Gary Anderson gain. You know it's never going to be a dull game when you play Gary," said Gurney, known as Dude.
"I'm sure Gary would be more than ready for me. Maybe I surprised him the last time. He might be better prepared.
"I played well against Gary but I have played better before, although it was great to play so well on live television."
Gurney knows he has his work cut out tonight.
"I have played Jamie Lewis twice and we have won one apiece so I was happy with the draw," he said.
"I'm playing well and hopefully I can take my chances. I love the venue."
Gurney reached the semi-finals of the Players Championship, going out to world number one Michael van Gerwen.
The 29-year-old, a plumber by trade, is aiming to become a full-time dart player.
"I would like to give up work at some stage to concentrate on darts," he said.
"I would need to be closer to a place in the world top 16 before I could do that," explained the world number 36.
"Playing at the top level is more about the mental side of things. You can play really well and not even get a shot at a double. You have to be able to deal with that mentally and bounce back in the next leg."
World number 18 Brendan Dolan, in action tomorrow night against Australia's Kyle Anderson, is sure his fellow Ulsterman can make a big impression in the World Championship.
Dolan said: "Daryl is a brilliant player and I expect great things from him. He has a tough match against Jamie Lewis but has the ability to win it, particularly after his great run at the Players Championship."
Dolan believes a kick up the backside has put him in great shape for a serious tilt at winning the title.
The Fermanagh arrow artist says he "fell out of love with darts" earlier this year but is now back on form and ready for the greatest darting show on earth.
Dolan drifted in the world rankings but has now regained focus and is aiming to make the big breakthrough in the showpiece.
"I slipped down the world rankings a few places over recent months. I hadn't been playing as well as I had for the previous two years. That gave me a kick up the backside," he explained.
"I think because of that I fell out of love a bit with darts but my focus is back, I am practising hard and I know the hard work will pay off. It will just be the practice board between now and my opening match.
"It only takes one tournament to turn things around.
"And why not this one - I love playing at Alexandra Palace and I love the crowd.
"I have won four tournaments but the next step is to win a television tournament.
"I am good enough to win a major.
"The game is growing and the standard is getting higher. It's great to be involved, a great place to be."
Dolan knows all about 28-year-old Anderson.
"Kyle has been on the circuit for a couple of years. He has played particularly well on television. He is a very good player," said the 42-year-old.
"I've never actually played him but I know him well.
"It's a tough draw because he's one of the strongest players outside the world's top 32," he added.
Dolan, known as History Maker after he became the first ever player to throw a nine darter in the World Grand Prix double-in format on his way to the final in 2011, will return home to Belcoo at the weekend, travelling back to London on Boxing Day if he beats Anderson for his second round match the following day.
"The timing of the tournament over Christmas makes things a bit awkward when, like me, you have to travel," he said.
"At this time of the year you are very much at the mercy of the weather.
"I'm well used to travelling. I leave home on a Thursday or Friday to play, usually in England, over the weekend and then I travel home again on the Monday. That's how it is most weeks.
"But this is my job now - and I can't afford to retire just yet! I would love to be doing this for another 10, 15, 20 years!"
Dolan sees world number one Van Gerwen as the big danger.
"Van Gerwen is in good form and must be a strong favourite. But Taylor, Anderson, Lewis, Chisnall and Wright are all playing well," he said.
Ulster's finest are aiming for the top.