Ulster pair hoping for shot at legend Phil ’The Power’ Taylor
Phil Taylor is about to begin his quest for an unprecedented 16th world title — and two Ulstermen are standing in his way.
Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan and Tyrone’s Mickey Mansell would avoid ‘The Power’ until the later stages of the tournament and both have chances of mounting a serious challenge in the £1 million event at Alexandra Palace.
Dolan, a seasoned top level campaigner, will face Kevin Painter — who came close to becoming world champion in 2004 when edged out by Taylor 7-6 in the final — in the first round.
Mansell, making his World Championship debut, takes on New Zealand’s Preston Ridd in a preliminary round, the winner up against Holland’s Vincent van der Voort.
And Dolan is convinced the Coalisland player could be a star in the making.
“Mickey Mansell is a superb thrower. He will do very well.
“He should win his preliminary match and he would have a very good chance against Vincent van der Voort in the first round,” said the Belcoo arrow artist, who is confident of first round victory.
“I’m not seeded so I was always going to get a tough draw.
“Kevin Painter is a class player but I fancy my chances of beating him.
“He has beaten me twice but the last time we played I beat him and I was pretty much in control,” said Dolan.
“I’m happy enough with the draw. Painter is my first opponent and I’m not looking too far beyond that.
“But you do run your eye down the draw and I play Wes Newton or Darin Young if I win. Wes is very much the man in form but at least I wouldn’t be playing someone like Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld too early on,” he said.
World number two James Wade is in Dolan’s half of draw, hot favourite Taylor in the other half.
“It’s a good draw but you still have to win your games,” said Dolan, who feels Wade could thwart Taylor’s quest for a 16th world title — provided he can find some form in the early rounds.
“Wade is definitely a threat to Taylor. If he can get himself through to the latter stages — the semi-final and final — that’s when he tends to play his best darts.”
Dolan’s high ranking earns him an automatic place in the World Championship, while Mansell came though a qualifying event.
Dolan said: “I play all year in the Players’ Championship and the world’s top 32 plus the top 16 in the Players’ Championship qualify for the World Championship.
“In the world rankings I am 35th and hopefully I will move up a few places depending on how I do in the World Championship.
“I will be practising hard from now until the tournament starts.”
Defending champion Taylor starts out against the winner of the preliminary round between American Gary Mawson and Juanito Gionzon of the Philippines.
The tournament starts tomorrow week, with the final on Monday, January 3.