'I let him off': Daryl Gurney rues missed chances as van Gerwen extends Premier League reign
Daryl Gurney's Premier League bid came to a disappointing end as he was beaten in the semi-finals by defending champion Michael van Gerwen, who went on to retain his crown.
Just two games away from the biggest title of his career, Londonderry man Gurney came unstuck at the penultimate hurdle when he was faced by the World No.1 at The O2 in London.
However, it was a case of missed opportunities for Gurney, who couldn't find the darts to put away a distinctly off-colour 'Mighty Mike' and bowed out at the semi-finals.
Having finished the first half of the match level at 5-5, 'Superchin' returned to the oche and struggled in the second half, posting a meagre 94 average and succumbing to a 10-7 loss.
"I went out there and Van Gerwen was for the grabs and I let him off," Gurney lamented after his defeat. "All the times I've played him I've missed doubles against him. I feel like I missed an opportunity, but ah well.
"We were up there trying so hard it was ridiculous. I was hanging in there but I was practicing so poorly tonight and the way I played was the way I was practicing.
"I went up there after not the greatest of practices so I was a bit low on confidence. It wasn't to be. It wasn't a classic but it was entertaining."
A potential controversy occurred during the mid-match break, when the dartboard was switched at the request of Van Gerwen without Gurney being asked if he consented.
However, the Ulsterman refused to use it as an excuse, saying that even if he had been consulted he would have been fine with the switch.
"They didn't ask me," he admitted. "We played 10 legs and when I came back on I walked past a man with the dartboard. They said they were changing it and I was fine with it.
"It didn't make any difference on the outcome of the game, but if Michael felt like he needed to get it changed, maybe it helped him.
"Next time I'm going to ask for a board with bigger trebles and bigger doubles!"
The match began with Van Gerwen showing his nerves, hitting just 38 with his first three darts, only to recover and take the first leg on the throw.
From there, the match continued on throw up until the interval, with the Dutch maestro playing much the better darts but leaving Gurney just enough room to hang onto his coat-tails.
In the fourth leg, Van Gerwen slipped up to allow Gurney a 43 check-out to win the leg, while the Ulsterman failed to check out on 25 with the possibility of a break presenting itself in the ninth leg.
However, a smart finish in the 10th leg saw Gurney hit a clutch 133 to leave double 12 to level it up at the break, and he took it out with his third dart to ensure they were level pegging.
Both players were averaging below a ton up to that point, a far cry from the top form that both have shown throughout the Premier League thus far, and Van Gerwen requested a change of board to try and spark a resurgence.
It looked like it had the opposite effect, however, when Gurney stepped up to the oche and immediately threw a maximum with his first three darts, before going on to record the first break of the match with a 32 check-out.
But the World No.4 made the cardinal sin of not backing it up by winning the next leg on throw, throwing some sloppy darts and allowing Van Gerwen to break straight back.
From there it seemed that normal service would resume when Van Gerwen won the 13th leg on throw and Gurney set up double 12 to win the 14th, only to miss six darts at the double to allow his opponent in and take a two-leg lead for the first time in the match.
From there, the result was a formality. Van Gerwen produced a 58 check-out to move one leg from victory and, although Gurney did provide some hope by bringing it back to 9-7, he was powerless to stop the World No.1 wrapping up victory in the 17th and final leg.
Van Gerwen would go on to be crowned champion yet again with a much more convincing 11-5 win over Rob Cross in the final.