Limerick and Ireland’s number one dart player, Willie O’Connor, was defeated in the Hungarian Darts Trophy final by Joe Cullen on Sunday evening. Despite an extremely impressive weekend, O’Connor came up just short against a formidable Cullen.
Englishman and 2022 Premier League runner-up Cullen ran out 8-2 winner in Budapest, Hungary.
Despite the loss, the Cappamore native bags himself £10,000 which helps his ranking and therefor keeps him in the running for several competitions including the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship in December.
There was 46 players were at the Oche over the three day oche with two late withdrawals, including world number one, Gerwyn Price.
Following a win over Hungarian Pal Szekely (6-2) in Friday, the Magpie then had to see off a number of seeded players to reach the decider. Bizarrely, none of the seeded players clashed all weekend with O’Connor leading the way in upsetting the top players.
Early on Saturday, he had too much for Dimitri Van Den Bergh, who averaged just 80.70. O’Connor was much sharper, turning in a 94.28 average to win 6-3. This set up a tie with World Championship runner-up, Michael Smith and prolonged his stay to Sunday.
Smith, who defeated O’Connor on route to that world decider held a 5-3 lead but checkouts of 114, 64, and 76 saw the Cappamore native turn the tables and book his place in Sunday’s evening session.
Number 12 seed, Jose De Sousa, who ousted O’Connor in last season’s Players Championship Finals, looked on course to take another win. But trailing 4-2 O’Connor won the final four legs and saw his average climb to 95 to book a second ever semi-final on the European Tour.
The semi-final win over Nathan Aspinall was an overall scrappy affair, with both averages well down. The Magpie did enough to win 7-5 having got a deserved break in leg six.
Joe Cullen upped his level all weekend and saved his finest for the final. He raced into a 5-0 lead with the major highlight for the loser a 124 checkout in the seventh leg. But ultimately, ‘The Rockstar’ was too good and averaged nearly 98, eight points more than O’Connor.
The former carpenter will be buoyed to reach a second ever final on the European Tour and will hope to make further inroads in the coming weeks and improve his ranking which was world number 34 prior to the weekend.