There was a stir of anticipation around Ballymoney on Saturday as darts players descended on the Ballybrakes Provisional Indoor Bowling Club for the launch of the Scratch Labels UK Grand Slam of Darts.
The first stage of the tournament was a round robin with 80 players drawn out into 16 groups of 5 players to battle it out for a place in the last 32 knockout, with the top 2 from each group progressing to the knockout. It was onto the first round of KO’s with Jeff Watt, Paul McDonald and John Elder the most notable of casualties going out. Into the last 16 and all players started to up their game with most games down to the wire and some favourites falling like Daniel McDonald, Barry McLaughlin and Nigel Cahoon.
The quarter-finals served up a few tasty games. Neil Duff defeated teammate and NI Interantional player Gary Elliott and with Geoff Matthews, Adrian Devine and NI Team Captain Davy Glenn all into the semi’s it was impossible to predict a winner.
The first semi-final between County teammates Neil Duff and Geoff Matthews saw Neil storm into a 4-1 lead, but Geoff fought his way back to 4-4. Neil then missed a few chances allowing Geoff to step up and clinch victory.
The other semi-final was just as close with Davy Glenn and Adrian Devine both playing at the top of their game but it was Adrian who raced into a 3-1 lead. Davy fought back and soon found himself in a 4-3 lead. Adrian hit back to level the game before going 5-4 up on Davy. The next leg saw Davy step up again to level but to no avail as Adrian battered the treble 20 to win the match.
And so the crowd gathered round to see who would be the winner of the first Grand Slam and there were to be no clues in the early legs as both players battled to go in 3-3 at the break.
After the break was to be much the same neither player was able to take control as they exchanged legs taking the game all the way to the deciding leg at 6-6. The final leg was another battle and as the players got down to the doubles it was the fearless Geoff Matthews who held his nerve to fire in the winning double adding yet another title to his already extensive list of titles.
A great day was had by all the players and supporters and already many looking forward to next years Grand Slam. A big thank you goes out Michael Sweeney of Scratch Labels UK for Sponsoring the Event and to the board sponsors: Mandy’s Inn, Area One Darts, Coleraine & District Darts League, Patterson’s TV, Aerial & Satellite Services, Patterson’s Trophies & Engraving, Hedgie’s Decorating Services, Winmau and Alan McVicker. Also the Ballybrakes Indoor Bowling Club for a top class venue, without all the support of the Sponsors, venue and the players this event would not have been possible.
Group Winners: 1 – Rab Adair, 2 – Damian Norton, 3 – Jeff Watt, 4 – Dermot McGuinness, 5 – Paul McDonald, 6 – Geoff Matthews, 7 – Gary Elliott, 8 – Barry McLaughlin, 9 – Gary McCafferty, 10 – Darnell McCrory, 11 – Stephen Moore, 12 – Daniel McDonald, 13 – Davy Glenn, 14 – William ‘Hedgie’ McKendry, 15 – Paddy Coyles, 16 – Adrian Devine
Group Runners-up: 1 – Michael Halliday, 2 – Leonard McKeegan, 3 – Mervyn McKeeman, 4 – Neil Duff, 5 – Johnny Cree, 6 – Sean McKinney, 7 – William ‘Bugsy’ McKendry, 8 – Stephen Pinkerton, 9 – Aaron McKendry, 10 – Alwyn McCoosh, 11 – Rodney Kane, 12 – Matthew Curry, 13 – Gary Watton, 14 – Allan Craig, 15 – John Elder, 16 – Nigel Cahoon
R.Adair 0-5 L.McKeegan; J.Watt 3-5 N.Duff; P.McDonald 0-5 S.McKinney;
G.Elliott 5-0 S.Pinkerton; D.Norton 5-3 M.Halliday; D.McGuinness 5-1 M.McKeeman
G.Matthews 5-0 J.Cree; B.McLaughlin 5-1 W.B.McKendry; G.McCafferty 2-5 A.McCoosh
S.Moore 4-5 M.Curry; D.Glenn 5-2 A.Craig; P.Coyles 0-5 N.Cahoon; D.McCrory 5-0 A.McKendry
D.McDonald 5-3 R.Kane; W.McKendry 5-2 G.Watton; A.Devine 5-4 J.Elder
L.McKeegan 0-5 N.Duff; S.McKinney 2-5 G.Elliott; D.Norton 3-5 D.McGuinness
G.Matthews 5-4 B.McLaughlin; A.McCoosh 5-4 M.Curry; D.Glenn 5-4 N.Cahoon
D.McCrory 5-4 D.McDonald; W.McKendry 2-5 A.Devine
N.Duff 6-1 G.Elliott
G.Matthews 6-1 D.McGuinness
D.Glenn 6-0 A.McCoosh
A.Devine 6-3 D.McCrory
G.Matthews 6-4 N.Duff
A.Devine 6-5 D.Glenn
Final - G.Matthews 7-6 A.Devine