The Northern Ireland Ladies team were gallant runners up in the Six Nations Cup of Darts beaten by England 5-0.
The NI ladies team (Grace Crane, Kayleigh O’Neill and Helen Dunn) managed by Lorraine Brandon played great all the way through. In their first game they were beaten by England 7-2, with Grace and Kayleigh managing to get two legs and could have had more. They knew they had to beat Scotland in their second group game to have a chance of getting through.
In the second game Kayleigh started out with a win in the first leg and was backed up by Helen Dunn to lead 2-0. In the third leg Grace Crane stepped up against Scotland’s Suzanna McGimpsey and Suzanna took the leg to get one back. Helen took out tops after just missing shanghai on 20’s for a 3-1 lead in the race to 5. Grace Crane came back to the oche against Emily Davidson and clinically took out 91 (T17, tops) for a 4-1 lead. Scotland star player Suzanna McGimpsey then stayed on stage for two legs in a row and won both beating Kayleigh and Helen to give Scotland some heart. But Grace Crane again pulled another leg out for 5-3. Team captain Kayleigh returned for a quick played leg and took out double five for a 6-3 win.
England beat Scotland in the other group game, so it meant Northern Ireland ladies were through to the semi finals against Netherlands on Sunday. England beat Wales 5-2 in the other semi final, so the result of NI vs Netherlands would be playing England in the final.
In the other semi final the Netherlands team had a strong team of Sharon Prins, Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf. It would take a huge effort for NI to win this against the home favourites.
Sharon Prins opened up the Netherlands account by beating Kayleigh after missing darts to lead 1-0. Next up was Grace Crane against Aileen, and Grace pulled out an 86 finish (18,T18,D7) to draw NI level. Anca Zijlstra next up against NI’s Helen Dunn and she was pretty steady here and pulled the Netherlands ahead 2-1 with Helen left back on 201. Aileen de Graaf missed tops, tens and fives and allowed Kayleigh back for 88. Kayleigh landed a treble twenty first dart, missed double 14 but landed it with her last dart in hand to draw NI level again 2-2. Next up Grace versus Anca and Grace shot out ahead in the leg and just missed a 156 checkout but came back and finished 36. Grace really showed her worth here in this match. In the next leg, Netherland’s Sharon Prins could just not land a double and gave so many opportunities to Helen that she eventually had to take one – Northern Ireland then led 4-2 and piled on the pressure. Aileen de Graaf came back and was heavy scoring against Helen Dunn to take the leg and claw a leg back now 4-3 to NI. Anca Zijlstra had the pleasure of the next leg against NI captain Kayleigh O’Neill who again just kept up with Anca and was there to pounce when Anca missed her doubles. Kayleigh wins the match on double 1 to send Northern Ireland into the final to play England! A shock win and no doubt if Netherlands could hit a double they would have been there, but credit to the ladies from Northern Ireland – they took their chances when afforded them.
So now for England (Fallon Sherrock, Lorraine Winstanley and Maria O’Brien) versus Northern Ireland for the ladies final. In the first leg Fallon Sherrock played Helen which included a 180, 121 and streaked ahead and closed the first leg out in quick time, first blood for England. Fallon won nine out of nine legs across the whole team weekend!
The second leg went to Maria O’Brien versus Kayleigh to take England to 2-0 up. The third leg was Lorraine Winstanley versus Grace Crane – a cagey affair this leg but Lorraine closed out the leg on double 18 for 3-0 and now only needing two more to win the final.
Up steps Helen Dunn versus Maria O’Brien and a very even leg this one, with Helen on a double first – the Domestic Goddess missed her doubles and Maria came back and clinically finished her double 15 for 4-0. So the next leg was Lorraine Winstanley versus Kayleigh O’Neill – Lorraine showed her class in this leg with a ton, 180 and followed with a 140 to leave 80 after 9 darts and missed a possible 11 darter. Lorraine returned and hit double 5 for a 17 dart leg and to win the final with a 5-0 scoreline and win the cup for a fourth time.
Lorraine Winstanley said:
Northern Ireland’s finishing against the Netherlands team was amazing. And it’s all about finishing the legs and they did that all weekend.
Maria O’Brien said:
Northern Ireland have been outstanding all weekend and great company!
The Northern Ireland ladies team did so well and didn’t deserve a whitewash but well done to get that far. NI darts are on the up in ladies as well as the men’s.