O’Connor begins Players Championship Finals

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photo: Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE

CAPPAMORE’S William O’Connor is among three Irish darters heading to Minehead for the 2021 Players Championships Finals. Ranked 49th in the PDC Order of Merit, O’Connor faces Chris Dobey in the first round.

O’Connor is on the oche around 10pm, in a best of 11 battle. Both players have one victory from their two previous clashes.

‘The Magpie’ cemented his spot in the event when he reached the semi-final of Players Championship 29 three weeks ago, before losing to Nathan Aspinall. The Order of Merit is based on earnings on the tour and to date in 2021, O’Connor has earned £13,250 on tour.

The top 64 players from the 30 Players Championship events make the cut, though Jelle Klaasen replaces Jamie Hughes due to Covid-19.

https://twitter.com/OfficialPDC/status/1455943087394537472?s=20

After a difficult 2020, O’Connor had struggled for form until the latter part of this season, but travels to the famous Butlin’s Resort playing for a top prize of £100,000. For taking part, O’Connor guarantees himself £2,500.

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In the three previous times he has qualified, he experienced mixed results. A last 16 (round 3) appearance in 2017, a quarter final in 2019, was followed by a first round defeat 12 months ago to eventual runner-up, Dirk Van Duijvenbode.

With the 2022 PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace around the corner, he will be hopeful of a decent run to build confidence ahead of darts showpiece event.

Should O’Connor see off “Hollywood” Dobey, he will face Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski or Ron Meulenkamp of The Netherlands.

The 35-year-old is on the same side of the draw as World Champion Gerwyn Price, while number one rank Jose De Sousa is also on the top-half of the draw.

Elsewhere among the 64-strong field, are Carlow’s Steve Lennon and Meath native Keane Barry, the latter roundly tipped for big things on the world stage.

The coverage is on ITV4, starting this Friday, November 26th, at 12.45pm.

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