For the first time I this year decided to travel to Dublin to watch the First Round of the PDC World Grand Prix "live". Well - and of course the two Players Championships at the weekend before which are played in the same venue. A lot of darts over four days!!!
Years ago while still at university I had been in Dublin before but my memories were rather vague.
I travelled with some anticipation to the airport where I not really surprisingly stumbled over Bernd Roith - there is only one flight from Stuttgart to Dublin on a Friday afternoon. We together started our voyage. Bernd didn't stay at the same hotel but his hotel was in the same direction so after a slightly turbulent landing we could use the same bus to the city centre. The bus was rather full and we sat in the back and couldn't really understand the driver telling the bus stops . We in the end did turn a lap of honour before we left the bus at the right stop to change to the LUAS via hotels. At this time it was already very dark and it was rather difficult to orientate oneself. But even in the dark we could see from the LUAS - some kind of tram - that a lot of areas along the street were fenced or behind high stone walls. Bernd left the LUAS before me. As he told me the next morning he had to walk more then two hours to finally reach his hotel.
I was more lucky - first because a very friendly youth who had no idea of darts explained me where to find the hotel and secondly because the hotel was only one fence and two walls away from the LUAS stop.
From the main road I had to walk a quite long and not really well-lit access-path to the City West Hotel, a very sedate hotel, were a spacious, clean and comfortable room already waited for me.
In the morning I got a great delicious breakfast and saw a lot of dart players wander around the big hotel with more then 700 rooms.
I had enough time after breakfast to explore the area. The sky was blue and the sun was shining though the temperatures were much lower then back in Germany. "Exploring" meant to walk along the main street and again walk between walls and fences, all the housing estates were fenced or walled in and most accesses were closed, even the enormous hotel golf course is all walled in.
Quite near the hotel I found a good grocery which offered everything I needed to survive the day.
In time for the Players Championship I arrived in the Sycamore Suite which can be found on the second floor of the hotel's leisure centre. The Sycamore Suite is a huge, bright venue which offers without problems room for 16 dartboards, 6 warming-up boards, a bar, 112 dart players with families and guests and the officials. I thought the hotel really is a great venue though to stay there is not cheap.
As always during those players championships it was not easy to follow what is going on. Of course I at first watched Bernd Roith's match which he lost a little bit unlucky against young Shaun Griffiths. Bernd just couldn't hit big scores at the beginning of the last leg which cost him the win. He didn't play bad; to be sure he was on the same level as Shaun. Then I had a view at John Part on the board bedside who just demolished Steve Beaton in rather impressive fashion. Beaton was not able to hit a double while Part was clinical. I've really no idea why the same John Part lost his second match - that will stay a mystery.
Next I had a look at Denis Ovens who won his first match without a problem. He still has the same shoulder injury, it still hurts but at least his confidence starts to come back. I stayed with Denis till the quarterfinals where he lost a very close match against Robert Thornton. I took the scores of the match between Denis Ovens and Justin Pipe in which Denis averaged almost 99,6. He played the same in all his matches - a lot of 140s, some 180s and against Justin Pipe almost a Nine-Darter.
In between I watched parts of other matches. I saw a lot of great darts, there are no really weak players on the tour and one will not often see a weak match though the differences nevertheless reach from those around 80 to the around 100 and more of the real top players of the day like Whitlock, van Gerwen, Thornton and on this day Denis Ovens as well. And I think one needs a little bit of luck - Robert Thornton had it as he sneaked in the same fashion as against Denis Ovens against Scott Rand into the final - both times the players were on par.
The final between Robert Thornton and Michael van Gerwen was a fast affair and soon finished. Once again it was a quite close match but this time Michael van Gerwen was victorious.
As it still didn't rain I took another walk in the other direction and once again couldn't get around walls and fences - I'll ask John MaGowan - who is under the participants despite a slight stroke a few months ago - why the Irish "cage" themselves in like this. Is it such a dangerous country???