There were very good omens on my plane ride over from rainy Leeds to the sunshine of Dublin harbour. The Wicklow mountains were emerald green in the clouds beyond Saggart church.
Our commentary team was joined by former world number one Rod Harrington, who had particular interest in the “clutch hitting” of his protégé, World No.1Colin Lloyd.
Colin had a right old tussle with silky veteran Tom Kirby, who really got the crowd on his side. It took all the coolness under pressure, that Rod has drummed into Lloyd, to produce brilliant winning darts in the last set.
The revelation of the night was the precision double 18 shooting of Wayne Mardle, who said he was terrified by the double to start format. Wayne had on his business head, big time, against Lionel Sams, dropping only one leg and looks one of the favourites for the tournament.
My biggest laugh to date, came when Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark announced that local lad Keith Rooney had two ambitions in life – to be World Champion and ‘to have Sid Waddell commentate on him in a big match’. Oh yes – he also wanted me to give him a nickname!
I started with ‘Smack-a-Rooney’ and ended up with ‘Cracker-Rooney!’ The local hero did for Team Unicorn’s James Wade, with his methodical precision darts, in a classic match and the party and the Guinness are in full flow!
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