Belfast Telegraph

Gurney in the groove and homing in on glory

 

Bullseye: Fan favourite Daryl Gurney returns to SSE Arena
Bullseye: Fan favourite Daryl Gurney returns to SSE Arena

By Robert Jones

Daryl Gurney says he's ready to produce more fireworks in front of his supporters at the SSE Arena tonight.

The 33-year-old will continue his Play-Off surge against Rob Cross and he arrives in Belfast with a spring in his step after a stunning 8-6 victory over Ricky Evans in the German Darts Championship on the PDC's European Tour circuit last weekend.

That triumph moved the Londonderry ace up to third on the PDC Order of Merit, leaving him in confident mood ahead of another special night of darts in the city.

It's the start of the second half of the Unibet Premier League season and following the elimination of Raymond van Barneveld after last week's double-header in Rotterdam, the remaining eight players are now battling for four spots in May's Play-Offs. The atmosphere at the Belfast venue will be electric once again and Gurney can't wait to sample it.

"The atmosphere was unbelievable last year," said 'Superchin'.

"I remember even practicing and then going out in front of the crowd was amazing.

"I had to get a connecting flight back home so it took me 13 hours to get home.

"I had my son's birthday party, which was good, I think there was 40 people at it.

"I don't get much time at home. Last weekend was great, but you don't get much time to think about it.

"I'm sure in the practice room on Thursday the players will congratulate me and I'll remember it then. It's been a goal since last year, to win a Euro Tour. They are like mini Grand Slams.

"You want a Pro Tour, a major and a Euro Tour, so it was like a miniature Grand Slam for me."

Gurney enjoyed a memorable victory in his first appearance at The SSE Arena 12 months ago.

He also took on Cross on that occasion, winning 7-5, and returns to Northern Ireland in fourth place in the league table after winning his last three games.

"I absolutely cannot wait for Thursday night," he added.

"I was already over the moon to be returning to Belfast and to win my first European Tour event just a few days before it is the perfect start.

"Last year in Belfast was one of the most magical experiences of my life, so to get the chance to do it again is a dream come true. I know the place will be absolutely buzzing again.

"I'll be in the mode where I don't want to be beaten but to be the best, you've got to beat the best and I'll be trying my damnedest.

"I'm not as consistently good as Rob (Cross), Michael van Gerwen or James Wade but I'm looking to get into the top four."

Cross sits level on 13 points at the top of the table with World Champion Van Gerwen, and the world number two is hoping to silence the home support.

"I played a Dutchman, Jeffrey de Zwaan, in Rotterdam last week and I know the crowd will be behind Daryl too but I'm looking forward to it," said Cross.

"Daryl's playing great darts at the moment and he's a fantastic guy. I had to dig in last week to win against Jeffrey but that's not a bad thing to have a battle like that.

"I hit some big scores at important times and my game's been pretty good recently."

2019 Unibet Premier League, tonight's fixtures: Mensur Suljovic v James Wade, Michael Smith v Peter Wright, Rob Cross v Daryl Gurney, Michael van Gerwen v Gerwyn Price.

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