14th March 2012
Double Dutch delight as Orange Army dominate Isle of Man Darts Festival
There was double Dutch delight as Jeffrey de Graaf celebrated victory, toppling fellow countryman Jan Dekker 4-2 in the men’s singles at the 27th Isle of Man International Darts Festival.
The future of international darts looks certain to have a strong orange tinge after players from the Netherlands followed up Christian Kist’s world championship success in the Island’s weekend darts festival.
Such was the men in orange’s domination in the Villa Marina tournament that they provided six of the eight quarter finalists, eclipsing all other nations.
And then to provide the cherry – or should that be orange – on the cake, victory in the women’s singles and the £3000 top prize went to Rotterdam’s Francis Hoenselaar.
Top Island performance of the weekend came from women’s number one Margaret Kelly who battled her way through to the last 16 in the women’s singles at the £22,500 four-day festival. But her dreams of making the quarter finals for the first time were thwarted by four times winner Julie Gore, the experienced Welsh international from Llanelli, who was a quarter finalist in this year’s world championship.
The Manx number one was punished by the heavy scoring of the Welsh skipper who laid the foundations for her victory with five scores of 81 and over as she raced to the double. Kelly hit a consolation 180 but it was too late, as Gore annexed the opening leg against the throw.
It was a similar pattern in the next, as Gore fired in 100 and 140s to lead, Kelly hitting a late 140 but slipping 2-0 behind. A further four scores of 80 and above, steered the Welsh player into a commanding lead in the third leg as the Islander suffered further frustration before again hitting a 140 but it was too late, as Gore steamed home for victory.
Kelly’s consolation was £200 prize-money for reaching the last 16 and being the most successful Islander.
In an afternoon of shocks England internationals Lisa Ashton and Karen Lawman failed to reach the last 16 as eight times world champ Trina Gulliver – and twice a Manx winner – crashed out to Nottinghamshire’s Helen Harvey.
Defending Manx champ Deta Hedman scored a revenge victory over Russian Anastasia Dobromyslova – who beat her to lift January’s world championship. Twice the East European battled from behind to level but it was Hedman who clinched the deciding leg to book her place in the last four.
Former world champ Francis Hoenselaar toppled Harvey to set up an all-Netherlands semi final clash with Tamara Schuur, while Gore defeated Russian Irina Armstrong to earn a last four clash with Hedman and set up a repeat of last year’s women’s final.
The gripping all-Dutch semi final encounter saw former world champ Hoenselaar take a 2-0 lead after taking the second leg against the throw but the Groningen player replied taking the third against the throw after hitting a maximum. The “Dutch Crown” clinched victory with a clinical double 10 in the next for an eye-catching 27.30 average.
In the second semi Gore fired in a 14-dart opening leg and then missed double 18 for a 2-0 lead, Hedman pouncing to exit on a two-dart 100 checkout, finished on double tops, In the third Gore missed three doubles as Hedman exited on double 18, powering into the next with 140 and then throwing in a maximum. The “Ice Cube” melted under the intense pressure as the “Dark Destroyer” clinched victory in just 12 darts, finished on 98.
In a scrappy opening leg to the final Hedman took an early advantage against the throw, annexing the next for a 2-0 lead. The Dutch player blazed back taking the third with a show-stopping 113 checkout.
Maintaining the momentum she annexed the fourth against the throw with a 13-darter, completed on double 16, holding her throw in the next to finish on 54 after Hedman left herself 20 after just 12 darts to lead the final for the first time, the Essex player holding her throw to level at 3-3.
Despite losing the bull the Dutch Crown fired in 100, 135 and 137 scores to steal the initiative and clinch her fourth Manx title in 18 darts, finished on double 18 with another 27 plus average.
There were high hopes of a good run for Islanders in the men’s singles but sky-high standards of their more experienced opponents proved too testing for the Manxmen.
Top Islander Colin Tyrer failed to make the last 64, which is where Geoff Hurst, Robbie Corrin and veteran Robbie Cannell crashed out.
In an event completely dominated by the travelling Dutchmen former world champ John Walton, world championship runner-up Tony O’Shea, and three times world champ Martin “Wolfie” Adams all failed to make the last eight, which featured six players from the Netherlands.
Jeffrey de Graaf won an all-Dutch encounter sweeping aside Willy van de Wiel 3-1 booking his place in the last four with eye-catching 11, 14 and 15 dart games, while Wesley Harms shot down “The Assassin” Martin Atkins 3-1, producing a brilliant 161 match-winning checkout with the Leeds man poised for the kill on 80.
Remarkably the first three legs in the Ten Berge and Dekker semi final clash went against the throw, Dekker blasting in 134, 140 and 137 as Ten Berge replied with a ton and 180 but the accounting student totted up a perfect finish on 90 for a 12-dart victory flourish and 28.17 average to motor into the final 3-1.
The match between twenty-somethings Harms and De Graaf - who practice together - produced an absorbing encounter and perhaps predictably saw the first four legs go with the advantage, Harms steering in a maximum in the third and De Graaf replying with a brace of 180s in the next. De Graaf led the way to the double in the decider but missed double 16 for a match-winning 98 finish, Harms sweeping in 133 to leave a handy 32. But De Graaf clinched double eight on his return to the oche.
De Graaf nailed his final intentions in the opening leg with a 14-dart finish, completed on 54, against the throw. He defended the second leg and annexed the third with a 74 finish on double tops to open up a 3-0 lead.
But then De Graaf missed double 16 for a match-winning 108 checkout, Dekker nipping in to spoil the celebrations, adding the fifth leg to further pressurise the young newcomer to the stage. However Dekker’s comeback was short-lived and as “Double Dekker” left himself the sport’s biggest finish of 170, De Graaf steamed in to clinch victory with a breathtaking 104 checkout finished on double tops to complete a truly remarkable weekend for the travelling Dutch players.
The weekend had opened with the Okells “Early Bird” Trophy, held on the Thursday evening and attracted more than 240 competitors. There were high hopes for a good run from Manx players following Colin Tyrer’s victory 12 months ago.
The Island number one who has been in dominant form in the four Island rankings tournaments this year started confidently before crashing in the quarter finals along with fellow Islander Lee Frearson, just two games away from a final appearance on stage. But they were not disgraced going out in the last eight with Paul Jennings from Hartlepool, who was 12th seed in January’s Lakeside world championship.
England international Lisa Ashton flew the women’s flag with aplomb, making it through to the last 16, while Dale Newton produced the quickest game, polishing off one of his legs in just 10 darts. In a classic England versus Scotland encounter Glen Durrant toppled the man from north of the border by the odd leg in five, despite two maximums from Plank.
Friday, and it was the turn of the “stars of tomorrow” to take the spotlight. There were 19 entries for the Winmau World Youth playoffs and it was travellers who dominated the proceedings with Jersey’s eye-catching 16-year-old Eddie Le Bailly (junior), blasting in 85 and 94 checkouts en-route to his final showdown with County Durham’s impressive Jack Bell. Bell made the running the opening leg and had chances to miss three doubles before exiting on double 10. Both nervously missed doubles in the next before Le Bailly levelled, only to see Bell defend his throw for 2-1 lead.
In the next although Le Bailly led, it was the north east England player who missed four attempts for double tops, the Jersey teenager, however unable to seize the initiative as the diminutive green-shirted Durham sharpshooter clinched victory with double tops.
Running alongside the youth event was the mixed pairs, which attracted just under 400 teams. In an absorbing evening of darts many of the big-name favourites found them on the sidelines with Islanders. Wayne Harrison and Mandy Yeardsley and Robbie Cannel and partner Debbie Goldsmith made the last 32 so had the consolation of a £25 prize!
The gritty Yorkshire pairing of Garry Thompson and Karen Lawman strolled to a 2-0 victory in the final, toppling the England/Scotland pair of Zoe Jones and Ross Montgomery. The North Yorkshire duo annexed the opening leg and then made the running in the second, the Scot firing in a maximum but Lawman clinched the title with 52, finished off on double tops.
More than 70 teams lined up for the women’s pairs on the last day of an exhausting three day schedule with four English players winning through to the final with the powerful Trina Gulliver/Lisa Ashton combination toppling Deta Headman and Karen Lawman 2-0 on double tops.
The English/Dutch pairing of Tony O’Shea and Jimmy Hendriks signalled their intentions with a 15-dart opening leg finished with a 64 check out against Scot Mitchell and Carl Beattie in the men’s pairs. Two 100s paved the way for a straight 2-0 success, finished with a 16-dart leg and 32.32 match average.
Geoff Corkish, MBE, MHK, Political Member of the Department of Economic Development with responsibility for Tourism, said:
"It has once again been a great honour for the Isle of Man to host the prestigious annual Darts Championship and welcome some of the top players from the world of darts. The event has been a great success and I would particularly like to thank the tournament director Les France who has worked so hard. My thanks also go to our partners, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Okells, Winmau and Sleepwell Hotels, for their valuable help and support."
Photo: Geoff Corkish MBE, MHK with Men's pairs winners Tony O'Shea and Jimmy Hendriks