No sooner had the back-to-back Players Championships in Niedernhausen ended, the players were back on the road for the relatively short trip to Frankfurt and the small matter of a World Cup of Darts tournament.
MDA proudly had two chaps competing for their respective nations. Daryl Gurney was making his 7th appearance for Northern Ireland and the Evil One, Karel Sedlacek, with one less on quest number six in the colours of the Czech Republic.
Daryl’s team-mate Brendan Dolan hasn’t missed a World Cup yet – or forgotten his trousers – and the two have formed a strong bond together since 2016. It’s now a close knit unit with plenty of mutual respect, bags of experience and oodles of talent.
But agonisingly, for the second successive year, Team Northern Ireland were frustratingly halted in the quarter-final.
It was heartache at the same stage last year, defeated by eventual runners-up Austria. And on this occasion, it was the Dutch duo of Noppert and Van Duijvenbode who did the damage.
Rewind to the start of the World Cup and Thursday night. Messrs Gurney and Dolan began their quest against a very young Gibraltar team. And despite not performing anywhere near their best, the boys in green got over the line with a 5-3 pairs victory.
Onto round two and Northern Ireland were much better against the Kiwi’s. Singles action now to start with and Daryl was first up against Ben Robb, who on his day, is a fine player.
But the experience of the Derry man told as he averaged a highly respectable 93.17 average to grab a 4-2 win.
Shortly after that, Brendan got the better of Warren Parry by the same scoreline to put Team NI into the last eight.
It was always going to be a tough match against the Dutch – with or without Michael van Gerwen – and so it proved to be.
Daryl began proceedings facing recent UK Open champion, Danny Noppert. In what was a closely fought battle, it was The Freeze who edged it 4-2 putting the Dutch within a point of the semi-final.
With Brendan needing to beat Van Duijvenbode to force a pairs decider, he came incredibly close to doing so.
A plethora of missed doubles from Dirk coupled with Dolan’s resistance put the Fermanagh man from with one of victory. Leading 3-2 and sat poised to jump all over D2 when he returned to the board, Brendan watched in agony as his Dutch opponent took out a magnificent 153 checkout to level things up.
Van Duijvenbode then served it out on throw to take the final leg and break the hearts of Northern Ireland. Their shot at glory will have to wait another twelve months.