Saturday, October 23, 2021

FEATURED | Daryl Gurney – Superchin’s Journey

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Tom Beresford
Sports journalist. Non-League football reporter. YouTuber, presenter, podcast host. Previously heard on FiveLive and Love Sport Radio. Managed by Epic Sports Management

2017 has been an explosive year so far for ‘ Superchin ‘ Daryl Gurney.
Photo : Chris Dean

Daryl Gurney is one of the most in-form players in the PDC at the moment. Life for the 31-year old from Londonderry has been terrific as he has been in unbelievable form in 2017 which all started for him at the Coral UK Open in Minehead as he went all the way to the Semi-Finals as he enjoyed a string of superb performances as he defeated the likes of Ryan Palmer (6-3) and Alex Roy (10-2) in rounds two and three.

In the last 32 Gurney faced the Welshman Mark Webster in what looked to be a tough test for the Northern Irishman. Gurney powered his way through to the last 16 courtesy of a 10-3 victory. The 31-year old’s next opponent was the big Dutchman Vincent van der Voort and yet again the Northern Irish put in a delightful display as he cruised to a 10-5 victory booking his place in the Quarter-Finals. Gurney’s opponent in the last eight was Simon Whitlock and what a game it was as Daryl put in his greatest performance of the tournament as he came from 5-3 down to lead 9-7 just within a leg of victory, but a late surge from Whitlock made it 9-9 and forced a deciding leg. Gurney showed ultimate composure and pure class as he fired in an 11-darter as he took out 81 for a place in the Semi-Finals. He faced Peter Wright in the Semi’s and it was a terrific contest with Wright just edging out the Northern Irishman 11-5 as he went on to win the tournament.

For Gurney this was only the beginning as his confidence continued to grow week by week. His floor form since the UK Open has been absolutely sensational and it wasn’t long before Gurney claimed his first PDC title as he won Players Championship Seven over in Barnsley as he reached his first final and won it at the first attempt after a 6-3 win over Kim Huybrechts in the final capping off a superb performance as the Londonderry ace fired in four 180’s and averaged 105.87 and two 14-darters in the last two legs secured the title for Gurney. In the very next event just 24 hours later, Gurney produced a purple patch of pure brilliance as he went all the way to another final at Players Championship Eight as he lost out in a last-leg decider to Joe Cullen who himself claimed his first PDC title, the Northern Irishman missed a dart at the bullseye to win back-to-back titles, but he was delighted to reach two finals for the first time as he continued to be talked about on social media and to be tipped for the top. Gurney reached the Semi-Finals of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy as he continued to pick up crucial prize money on his ranking as he started to surge up the Pro Tour order of Merit.

At Players Championship 11 over in Milton Keynes in May he reached his third PDC final in 2017 as he lost out to Peter Wright 6-3. For Gurney his confidence continued to grow at this point and it was evident as he went on a sensational run in the last four pro tour events as he reached a Semi-Final and a Quarter-Final at Players Championship 13 & 14 over in Wigan which was followed up by his fourth PDC final last weekend as he came up against Darren Webster. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Gurney as he suffered a 6-1 defeat but he dusted himself off and bounced back from that defeat as he went on to reach the Semi-Finals of Players Championship 16 just 24 hours later. With that tremendous run as he surged up the rankings with his delightful form he has made it into the top 16 in the PDC for the first time in his career. Not only that, he also sits in FIRST position in the Players Championship order of merit in front of the likes of Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Rob Cross.

Things haven’t all gone the way of the Northern Irishman though as he has suffered a few setbacks on his rise to the top. Gurney unfortunately broken a bone in his throwing hand in a go-karting accident last year and was out of action for over six weeks as he missed a number of PDC events, he did make his return to action at the World Grand Prix and despite enjoying a 2-1 victory over Mensur Suljovic in the opening round, Gurney admitted the injury was still bothering him, in the second round he produced a superb performance as he cruised to a 3-0 victory, Gurney faced Dave Chisnall in the Quarter-Finals and was edged out 3-1 by the St Helens man, there were a lot of positives to take from the tournament for Superchin as he picked up £15,000 on his ranking and not a bad comeback from a horrible injury. Just a few months later Gurney went on to reach the Quarter-Finals of the World Darts Championship recieving up his biggest prize in his career as he picked up £38,000 before losing out to Michael van Gerwen 5-1 who went on to claim the World title.

Many people are asking where did things all start to fall into place for Gurney? Well, he joined the PDC in 2013 as he attended Qualifying School in Wigan and was successful on the second day as he earned a two-year tour card by winning six consecutive matches in which he defeated Paul Amos 6-2 to clinch qualification.

In his debut year, the highlight for ‘The Dude’ (which was his first nickname) was reaching the Quarter-Finals in the German Darts Championship as he seen off Colin Lloyd, Ronnie Baxter and Simon Whitlock before losing out to Peter Wright.

In 2014, Gurney stated his intent as he reached the Quarter-Finals of a UK Open Qualifier as he defeated the World number one Michael van Gerwen 6-5 which included a sensational 146 checkout. In doing so, he qualified for the UK Open for the first time in his career in which he reached the second round before losing out to Ian White. Later on that year he won the Tom Kirby memorial Irish Matchplay title after defeating Radek Szaganski in the final. In 2015, Gurney made his debut at the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, he enjoyed a preliminary round victory over Scott Mackenzie before losing out to Ronnie Baxter in round one.

The Londonderry ace reached his first PDC Semi-Final at a UK Open Qualifier defeating some big names along the way with wins over Alan Norris, Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall before losing out 6-2 to Michael Smith. The momentum from that run gave Gurney bags of confidence as he went on to reach the fourth round of the UK Open Finals courtesy of a 9-1 demolition of Kevin McDine, he lost out eventually to John Henderson in a last-leg decider. Gurney went on to reach his second Semi-Final in the PDC at Players Championship 10 before losing out 6-3 to Joe Murnan. In the back end of the year Gurney provided the performance of his career as he went all the way to the Semi-Finals of the Players Championship finals in Minehead infront of a packed crowd at Butlins as he enjoyed victories over Kim Huybrechts 6-2 whilst averaging 101.38, he then knocked out the reigning World champion Gary Anderson in a convincing 10-4 victory. He then defeated Benito van de Pas 10-5 to set up a Semi-Final clash with Michael van Gerwen. Gurney started brightly in the Semi-Final as he held Van Gerwen at 2-2 but the Dutchman went on a nine-leg rampage to take it 11-9.

2016 was another good year in the progression of  ‘ Superchin ‘ as he reached his first final of the European Tour with a string of sensational performances which included a 6-4 win over Peter Wright whilst averaging 105.18 followed up by a 6-4 win over Adrian Lewis with a mind-boggling 106.84 average to set up a Semi-Final clash with Mensur Suljovic, he swept aside the Austrian as he cruised to a 6-1 victory. The Londonderry ace came up against a rampant Michael van Gerwen in the final as he lost out 6-2 in the final. In July, Gurney made his debut at the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool as he came up against an on-song Ian White, unfortunately he lost out 10-2.

Gurney’s journey has been magnificent in his rise to the World’s top 16 and the frightening thing is he has a lot more to offer. The way he has swept aside his opponents as of late has been terrific to watch. The 31-year old is currently in Las Vegas at the World Series event in which the PDC chairman Barry Hearn selected him as a wild card. Gurney’s form as of late has sparked a debate as to whether or not he will be selected for the Premier League in 2018, if he continues in this vein of form he will be in the running for a place in the Premier League.

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